Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organisation 1 million people commit suicide every year. That makes 60 deaths per 100,000 a suicide. Or another way to put it, one death every 40 seconds.
This years theme is “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention across the World”. This is to highlight the growing problem of Suicide in the Developing World.
Here in Ireland 527 people committed suicide in 2009. This could be increased by the 195 deaths classified as “undetermined intent”. Taking the accepted figure, it is a 25% increase on 2008. This shows action must be taken.
Not all suicides can be prevented but some actions can be taken. These include the following:
Developing and implementing national strategies as well as specific local interventions can lower rates of suicide in diverse populations.
Successful approaches to suicide prevention have included:
restricting access to means;
establishing community prevention programs;
establishing guidelines for media reporting;
engaging with frontline professionals through gate keeper training programs.
I just read a piece on Irishhealth.com that points out the the Government are to cut funds to the National Office for Suicide Prevention by 12.5%. The cuts will come to funds availible to mental health support groups.
This is a terrible time for this. Mental Health is underfunded in this country and the fact that the government is to do this is highly annoying. This is aswell a highly stressful time for people with job losses and wage cuts and higher taxes meaning people are under pressure and things will only get worse.
According to Dan Neville TD, the Fine Gael Spokesperson with special responsibility for mental health said
Research into suicide since the 1890s shows that there is an increase in suicide rates and mental illness during times of economic recession. The Minister for Health and the HSE should be responding to this need in the present economic crisis. They are doing the opposite and justifying it on the back of saving a relatively small amount of money
He hits the nail on the head when he says “Government cutbacks in this area at a time of financial crisis amounted to a decision to save money at the expense of lives.”
It is well known and documented that suicide rates increase during recessions, especially if foreclosures are on the increase. As deputy Neville says,
The high rate and threat of home foreclosures is of concern. For most Irish, our homes are our primary investment and the locus of our identities and social support systems. When combined with the loss of employment, home loss or the threat of home loss, has been found to be one of the most common economic strains associated with suicides
Rising unemployment will see a rise in suicide rates, that is a well known and documented fact. Deputy Neville points out the Kelleher/Daly Cork Study in the 1980s, in which two thirds of the men who took their life, were out of work at the time.
As usual the Government will blame the economic crisis for all this, but just like the attempted cut in the disability area in the budget was reversed because of the paltry savings, this should be reversed aswell!