While there was a drop in the suicide rate in Ireland in 2014 compared to the previous year, a long-time advocate on the issue has warned against complacency.
Central Statistics Office data has confirmed that 459 deaths by suicide were registered in 2014, compared to 475 in 2013.
“A reduction of any kind is to be welcomed, but very cautiously,” said Limerick TD Dan Neville, founder of the Irish Association of Suicidology.
The chairman of the Fine Gael party said, “Any indication of a downward trend in the rate of suicide must be welcomed but when it comes to suicide, we must always question the accuracy of the figures. It is a fact that in some cases a definite cause of death cannot be determined and a number of these cases could be suicide. This has always been the case however, so we can accept that the trend is moving downwards, though it still remains unacceptably high.
“Males accounted for 80% of all suicide deaths in 2014 confirming that men are most at risk and that awareness campaigns need to be particularly targeted at them.”
Deputy Neville said it was beneficial that in recent years a national conversation around mental health had been taking place; more people have spoken openly about their experiences of depression, suicidal thoughts and mental ill-health.
“There has also been significant investment of €135 million in mental health services and particularly in community based care. These are all positive developments however the level of awareness and investment comes from an extremely low base.
“While I don’t want to dampen the positive trend evident in these figures, an element of realism is needed. 459 people still died by suicide in 2014, that’s more than twice the number of people who died on our roads in the same year.
“The improving economy, as well as the drop in the unemployment rate, make life a little easier and prevent some of the factors that contribute to depression and mental ill-health. There is still a long way to go however. We need to remain focused on improving awareness and allocating funds towards services,” he concluded.