Drop in number of suicides to 8% welcomed by research group

 

THE NUMBER of deaths by suicide recorded in the State fell to 486 last year, an 8 per cent drop on 2009.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office yesterday show 386 men and 100 women took their own lives in 2010. Men between the ages of 35 and 44 were the most vulnerable to suicide, with 109 men from this age group taking their own lives.

The National Suicide Research Foundation welcomed a “levelling off” in the number of deaths by suicide after steep increases in 2008 and 2009. However, it cautioned that the statistics were still provisional and could change.

Dr Ella Arensman, director of research at the foundation, said the office’s statistics also showed a fall in unexplained deaths from 195 in 2009 to 123 last year. She said this suggested there was a levelling off in the upward trend in suicides linked to the recession.

Researchers believe actual suicide rates are typically higher than official statistics as some people who take their own lives are classified as “deaths linked to undetermined intent” in official statistics.

The number of people recorded as dying from suicide increased steeply from 424 in 2008 to 527 in 2009. In 2006, 409 people were recorded as taking their own lives.

Research by the foundation has concluded specific risk factors include financial problems, unemployment and alcohol abuse.

The office’s Vital Statistics Yearly Summary 2010 also shows the population increased to 4,470,700 last year, the highest figure since 1860. This represents an increase of 11,400 people on the 4,459,300 population recorded in 2009.

The population has increased by 336,000 since 2005, although the rate of growth has fallen considerably in recent years due to increasing emigration. Between 2006 and 2007, the population rose by 99,000, an increase driven by Ireland’s high birth rate and high net immigration levels.

Some 73,724 babies were born in Ireland last year, slightly down from the 74,278 babies born in 2009. A separate ESRI report published this week showed Ireland’s 17 births per 1,000 population in 2009 was the highest birthrate across the EU.

The Vital Statistics Yearly Summary shows the average age of mothers continues to increase, reaching 31.5 years in 2010, up from 31.3 a year earlier. A total of 2,019 teenagers had babies last year and 44 of these mothers were under 16 years of age. This compares to 2,223 teenage births in 2009, 50 of which were by children under the age of 16.

There were 24,860 births outside marriage last year, which amounts to 33.7 per cent of all births. The number of births outside marriage has increased steadily over the past decade, with 31.2 per cent of all births registered outside marriage in 2001.

The highest percentage of births outside marriage occurred in Limerick city, at 55 per cent, while the lowest percentage was 24 per cent in Co Galway.

The number of people who married last year was 20,635, a slight fall on the 21,541 people who married in 2009, while 3,093 people divorced in 2010 compared to 3,341 in 2009.

MOST POPULAR BABY NAMES JACK AND SOPHIE STILL ON TOP

JACK AND Sophie were the most popular baby names registered last year, retaining the top spot both names held during 2009.

The top-five boys’ names recorded in the Central Statistics Office’s Irish Baby Names 2010 report were Jack, Seán, Daniel, James and Conor.

There has been no change in the top-five names since 2007 and little variation over the past 15 years with Jack, Seán, Conor and James retaining a top-five position since 1998.

There has been more variation in the choice of girls’ names, with Lucy appearing in the top five for the first time last year.

Emily returned to the top five in 2010 for the first time since 2008. Emma and Sarah have been in the top five since 1998, while Sophie was ranked among the top-five baby names in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

There were four first-time entries to the top-100 boys’ names: Tyler, Sebastien, Daithi and Alfie. The highest new entry, at number 83, was Tyler, which rose 47 places last year.

There were three first-time entries to the top 100 for girls: Lilly, Sofia and Lena. The highest new entry was Lilly, which climbed from 110th place in 2009 to 76th last year.

The report shows there were 914 boys named Jack in 2010, 102 more than the number of boys named Seán, the second- most popular name. Jack accounted for 2.4 per cent of the 37,622 boys’ names registered last year.

Some 599 girls were named Sophie last year, just one more than the second-most popular name, Emily.

Some 560 girls were named Emma, 530 were called Sarah and 521 were called Lucy.