A wake-up call on teenage suicide

Unicef starkly predicts that one in 10,000 Irish 15 to 19-year-olds will die by suicide

 

The finding in a Unicef report that the teenage suicide rate in the Republic is the fourth-highest among high-income countries must be a cause for concern. The report starkly predicts that one in 10,000 Irish 15 to 19-year-olds will die by suicide. Assessing the status of children in 41 high-income countries, it finds boys are three times more likely to take their own lives than girls; more girls attempt to do so but by using less lethal methods. The lowest rates of teenage suicide are recorded in southern European countries.

The UN report must be viewed in the context of an overall suicide rate in Ireland that has fallen by almost 20 per cent since 2011. Final figures for the total number of suicides for last year will be lower than the 451 recorded in 2015. However, commenting on these figures, Prof Brendan Kelly, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, said: “The overall decrease in the suicide rate masks an increase in the rate among young men, which needs to be addressed through better support services, alcohol and drug misuse services, and collaboration with schools, colleges and sports organisations”.

In addition he highlighted an urgent need for an increase in community-based care at weekends and out-of-hours. At present people who self-harm access psychiatric care via hospital emergency departments. But with recent figures showing almost 11,500 people attended emergency departments for self-harm over a four-year period in the Dublin northeast region alone, it is clear that much more than a single psychiatric assessment is needed to care for these patients.

Of the 4,800 people discharged from the emergency department, almost one quarter were sent home with no follow-up, while just 10 per cent of those who had attempted self-harm were referred to community-based mental health teams. The Health Service Executive has also failed to adequately record information about people who have taken their own lives. The Unicef report is a clear wake-up call on youth suicide in Ireland. We need focused intervention and we need it now.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.