Doctor says alcohol implicated in 45 per cent of all suicides


THE FOUNDER of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dr John Connolly, has said teenage suicide tends to be a more impulsive act, and that alcohol can lead to an increase in that impulsivity.

“Alcohol is implicated in up to 45 per cent of all suicides,” he said. “It blinds people’s judgment and [causes them to] do things that are uncharacteristic and unusual for them. It can increase a person’s depression, which is a big factor in suicide.

“Teenagers tend to be far more impulsive than older people, who tend to plan things more . . . Alcohol can increase that impulsiveness, there is no doubt about that,” he said.

Speaking to the Mayo News following the inquest on his son, David (19), John Higgins said the family had been paralysed by the grief of losing their only son and brother. He described the inquest as a “big step” in trying to get over their grief, but he is calling for tighter regulation in relation to the cost of alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences.

“Without a doubt, if David had come home after the pub, he would have been fine,” he said.

Mr Higgins said he would like to see “a minimum price on drink”, because if drink was more expensive, it would prevent people from “stacking up” and having house parties after the pubs close. “If you pay €4 a can for cider you are not going to invite 20 around to drink it, but you can buy cider for €1.20 a can, which is as cheap as a can of coke – that is crazy.”

While welcoming the recent announcement by Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall in which she said she favoured the ending of below-cost alcohol selling, Mr Higgins said the Government should be more forceful. He said it should stand up to multinational companies who made huge profits on cheap alcohol.

He also criticised the Guinness celebration of Arthur’s Day, which he described as “nothing more than some brainwave of a slick sales and marketing expert” and had no place in Ireland’s culture.

“An era of spending a few pounds on a few drinks has been replaced by teenagers spending a significant portion of their income on drinking for pure escapism.

“God only knows how it will be controlled. I doubt anything will be done until at least very many more lives have been scarred and many more avoidable deaths have occurred.”