Number of suicides rises to highest on record in 2011

Number of men taking their own lives outnumbers women by over four to one

The number of suicides in 2011 was the highest on record, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

There were 554 deaths from suicide in 2011, 59 more than in 2010 and two more than in 2009. According to the CSO, the previous highest number of deaths from suicide was in 2001, when there were 519 deaths. Figures date back to 2000.

Ireland’s suicide rate remained below the average for the 28 members of the EU in 2010, the latest year for which data is available. The standardised suicide rate was 10.9 per 100,000 of population, compared to 11.8 across the EU.

Male suicides outnumber female suicides by more than four to one; in 2011, 458 men died from self-harm, compared to 96 women. This is similar to the trend in previous years.


Male suicide rates were highest among men aged 45-64 years, while younger women aged 24-44 years recorded the highest rates among women.

The most common methods of suicide in Ireland were by hanging, strangulation and suffocation, accounting for three out of every four deaths, followed by drowning and submersion (8.3 per cent) and self-poisoning (7.9 per cent).

The CSO collects information on suicides from coroners and the Gardai. A death is recorded as a suicide if it is so described on the coroner’s certificate. If there isn’t enough information on the certificate, the death may still be recorded as a suicide if the Gardai state on a form submitted to the CSO that the death was as a result of intentional self-harm.

The increase in the suicide rate may be an indication that more suicides are being reported, or recorded as suicides, than before.

In the EU, Lithuania has the highest suicide rate and Greece the lowest, while the UK's figures per head of population are just over half those of Ireland. However, the CSO cautions that the figures should be interpreted with care, as methods of registering suicides may vary from country to country.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times