19 people died by suicide in Clare last year


ALMOST 10 times as many people died by suicide in Co Clare last year as died on the county’s roads.

According to preliminary figures from the Co Clare coroner’s office, 19 people died by suicide in the county in 2011. This compares to a historic low of two people dying on the county’s roads last year.

Leading consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee said yesterday the continuing rise in the suicide figures in Clare “is shocking and frightening”.

The provisional figure of 19 suicides compares to 18 in 2010 and 17 in 2009.

The figure for 2011 could be higher as Coroner Isobel O’Dea’s figures include a number of deaths where it is not possible to determine the cause.

Dr Bhamjee said that the “major drop in road deaths in Clare just shows what can be done when the Government devotes resources to tackling the issue and the continuing rise in suicide only highlights the Government’s failure to address the growing numbers” taking their own lives.

“Of course, tackling the issue of suicide is far more complex than reducing the number of road-deaths, but mental health needs to be a much higher priority for Government.”

Dr Bhamjee added: “I believe that the effects of the recession are only adding to the numbers committing suicide. The official numbers taking their own lives is always under-reported and I believe that you can add 20 per cent to the official figure.”

Last year, Dr Bhamjee came under fire after proposing that the Government should add lithium salts to a public water supply on a pilot basis to reduce depression.

Lithium is used by doctors as a mood stabiliser in the treatment of depression.

He repeated his call yesterday. “The Government should determine where there are hot-spots of suicide and add lithium salts to water supplies in those areas on a pilot basis,” he said.

The figures show that 17 of the 19 who died by suicide were male and the statistics show that 12 of the people who died were over 40.

Dr Bhamjee urged anyone having suicidal thoughts to seek help.

“There is a solution to every problem and people should talk to family members, friends and get professional advice and to go their GPs,” he said.

Dr Bhamjee said suicide solved nothing and only added to the problems of the grief-stricken family and friends left behind.