Most who died by suicide had relationship problems , study finds

Northern Ireland study finds men remain much more likely to take their own lives

Almost four out of five people who died by suicide in Northern Ireland suffered relationship problems in the lead-up to their deaths, a new analysis of suicide in Northern Ireland has found.

The study by University of Ulster academics Professor Siobhan O'Neill and Dr Colette Corry showed that 78 per cent of the deceased had experienced relationship difficulties or a breakup in the period prior to death.

Financial crisis was recorded in 13 per cent of cases and employment related problems in 12 per. In around a quarter of deaths, the illness or death of a relative or friend was noted.

The academics described their study as the “first ever detailed analysis of deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland from 1995” that draws on data from the Northern Ireland coroners’ files.

The findings show that men remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women. Suicide rates are similar across all the middle age cohorts with rising rates among the over 70s. More than two thirds (67 per cent) of those who died by suicide had a recorded mental illness while 59 per cent had a recorded physical illness.

"This study provides us with the most detailed information to date, upon which to base future suicide prevention initiatives in Northern Ireland," said Prof O'Neill from the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Well-being at the University's Magee campus in Derry and of the Irish Association of Suicidology.

“We need to find ways of helping people of all ages, and men in particular, to seek help and support for mental health problems during stressful life events,” she added.

“Suicide prevention is not simply a matter for health care providers. Politicians and policy makers all need to remain cognisant of the impact of their social policies on mental health and suicide. Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility,” Prof O’Neill said.