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Alcohol has ‘enormous bearing’ on suicide and self-harm rates, says Lynch

Minister suggests vested interests resisting change in the area of alcohol reform


Alcohol has an “enormous bearing” on suicide and self-harm rates in Ireland, Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said yesterday.

She was speaking at the launch of three reports that showed the incidence of suicide and self-harm in Ireland was linked to people’s patterns of alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol, its effects on us as a society, its effects on young vulnerable people, is something we have to take very seriously,” she said.

The Government is finalising its alcohol strategy, which is expected to recommend a number of reforms to tackle binge drinking.


Ban on sports sponsorship
However, there has been no agreement on whether alcoholic drink companies will be banned from sponsoring sports clubs or associations.

“The strategy in relation to alcohol and alcohol abuse, and the effect it is having on our society will not come soon enough,” Ms Lynch said.

She said, however, there was strong resistance from certain sections of society to tackling the problem.

“The same resistance was there when it came to banning cigarette advertising but, you know, the world didn’t collapse when we did that.”

The annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention revealed alcohol was involved in 38 per cent of the 12,010 self-harm cases recorded last year. It was significantly more often involved in male episodes of self-harm (42 per cent) than female episodes (36 per cent).

A separate report by the National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm said the number of people arriving at hospital for treatment for self-harm was highest on Mondays and Sundays, accounting for 32 per cent of all cases. Numbers fell after Monday to a level that was similar from Tuesday to Friday, before rising on Saturday, which experts believe mirrors the pattern of alcohol consumption.

Ms Lynch said the fall in the number of cases of suicide and self-harm suggest “our efforts are beginning to bear fruit”.

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