Men in the Republic of Ireland remain four times more likely to die by suicide than women, even though the male suicide rate has declined recently.
Publishing its suicide statistics report for 2016, the Samaritans suicide-prevention charity said the female suicide rate for the Republic increased by 14.7 per cent in the year 2013-2014, while the rate for men fell by 6.4 per cent.
It urged the new Government to take steps to reduce suicide. Estimates from the Central Statistics Office suggest that 459 people took their lives in the State in 2014, 368 men and 91 women.
Samaritans noted there was an increase in the overall suicide rate between the early 1980s and late 1990s, but it had been declining since then.
“After a period of fluctuation, the Republic of Ireland suicide rate has been decreasing since 2011. The overall suicide rate in the Republic of Ireland is at its lowest since 1993 and, between 2013 and 2014, there was a decrease of 3.3 per cent in the overall rate per 100,000.”
The male suicide rate hit a peak in 1998 and has decreased since then, with some fluctuations.
It is at its lowest since 1993, having decreased by 6.4 per cent between 2013 and 2014, the Samaritans said.
The female suicide rate has remained relatively stable during the 30-year period. Samaritans said the current rate was comparable to the rate in 1984, having increased by 14.7 per cent since 2013.
The highest overall rate of suicide is in the 50-54 age group. Men who die by suicide often fall into that age group, while women who take their own lives are more likely to be in the 25-29 age group.
Samaritans executive director for Ireland Catherine Brogan said each person who died by suicide left behind family and friends whose lives would never be the same again.
“Every single suicide is a tragedy,” she said. “Tackling suicide requires a wide range of agencies to work together, nationally and in communities, to give people the best chance to turn their lives around when they are struggling. Strong political oversight and leadership is required to ensure that the challenges we face in reducing suicide are overcome.”
The charity called on parties and elected representatives to make suicide reduction a priority by ensuring that Connecting for Life, the national strategy for suicide reduction, was implemented. It said ringfenced funding for suicide reduction must be maintained.
“We must all work together to encourage men and women to seek help before reaching a crisis point, so that they can access the support they need,” Ms Brogan said.
She said everyone had a role to play in reducing suicide, and urged anyone struggling to take action and to visit a GP or contact the charity.
Samaritans may be contacted free from any phone on 116123 and the number will not appear on a phone bill. Its email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about local branches is at samaritans.ie.