Cork suicide rate twice national average, says FF leader

Micheál Martin highlights death of 16 people in the county in past two weeks

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil that  Ireland was fourth highest in the table of suicides among those aged between 15 and 19. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil that Ireland was fourth highest in the table of suicides among those aged between 15 and 19. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The suicide rate in Cork city and county is almost twice the national average, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told the Dáil.

He said it was causing enormous grief, devastation, fear, anxiety and worry.

“In the past two weeks in Cork, it is believed that up to 16 people have died by suicide,’’ Mr Martin added.

He said Ireland was fourth highest in the table of suicides among those aged between 15 and 19. Mental health campaigner Conor Cusack had called for the establishment of 24-7 “emotional well-being centres’’ in response to the carnage caused by the crisis, he added.

“He correctly makes the point that it is not just a Government or health service issue but a whole-of-society issue and that we all share a responsibility to make a change,’’ Mr Martin added.

He said the Dáil should put party political differences to one side and think outside the box so as to respond effectively and with some degree of substance.

He said there was a need for increased counselling services.

Mr Martin said a multi-agency response had been organised and a task force was to meet next month to respond to the situation.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said suicide was “a tragic phenomenon’’ that had affected so many areas and people around the country.

It was hard to disagree with anybody who said we needed to do more about suicide, he added.

Mr Kenny said while young people displayed a remarkable confidence, they were also very fragile and talked about mental health issues in a way that previous generations never did.

“I offer my sympathy and condolences to families affected by this spate of suicides,’’ he added.

He said it was important to say the appointment of a Minister dealing with mental health (Helen McEntee) opened the opportunity to discuss the issue.

Mr Kenny said the national suicide prevention office had its budget doubled since 2011.

Self-harm

In fact, next year the total allocation for mental health would be €851.3 million and, while it would not bring anybody back, it was an increase of €140 million.

Calling for increased Government action on the issue, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said all sections of society were affected by suicide.

He said one in seven adults experienced mental health challenges in any given year.

In 2015, there were 451 recorded suicides in the State and 318 in the North.

“We all know that under-reporting is widespread, so the real figure across the island may be as high as 1,000,’’ he added. “It is also recorded that at least 8,790 citizens presented with self-harm at hospitals in this State.’’

Mr Adams asked if the Government would introduce a timeline implementation plan for the “vision for change’’ mental health strategy.

Mr Kenny said he would not object to that, adding the strategy had been published with the intention of implementing it in full.

“That is a challenge but I do not disagree with it,” he added.