Getting the facts on suicide


Sir, – David Adams (“We may wish to ignore suicide, but that won’t make it go away”, Opinion, June 21st) cites a HSE suicide prevention officer (Home News, June 18th) to the effect that “provisional figures for last year show a 20 per cent rise in suicide compared with the numbers reached in 2011”.

In fact the recently-published CSO Yearly Summary of Vital Statistics for 2012 shows that the number of deaths registered as due to “suicide and intentional self-harm” was 507 in 2012 compared with 525 in 2011. Deaths recorded as due to “events of undetermined intent”, which are probably predominantly suicides, were 82 in 2012 compared with 85 in 2011. Thus the combined total registered in these categories fell from 610 in 2011 to 589 in 2012. Allowing for the estimated increase in population, the broadly-defined suicide rate fell from 13.1 per 100,000 in 2011 to 12.8 in 2012. More strikingly, the rate is now some 15 per cent lower than it was at the turn of this century.

Contrary to much that has been written on the subject in this newspaper and elsewhere, we do not find in the Irish data much support for the belief that the rise in unemployment has led to a surge in the suicide rate. – Yours, etc,


Professor Emeritus,

School of Economics,

University College Dublin,

Dublin 4.