Official suicide figures reveal ‘alarming’ regional picture

Central Statistics Office says 507 people took their own lives in 2012, down slightly on 2011

Official statistics on the number of deaths by suicide last year reveal “alarming” data from some parts of the country, including Limerick, Cork, Wexford and Mayo, a national suicide charity has said.

Central Statistics Office figures published yesterday indicate 507 people took their lives in 2012, a drop of 3.5 per cent on the 525 such deaths in 2011.

The charity Console said, however, that this national rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 of the population masked some “alarming” regional data. It said the figures were “only part of the picture of suicide in Ireland”.

When analysed by region, the suicide rate in Limerick city was 26.6 per 100,000, while it was 25.6 in Cork city.


In Wexford, the rate was 21.2 per 100,000 of population and it was 19.9 in Mayo. Kerry and Leitrim had rates of 18.8 and 18.7 respectively.

Ciarán Austin, director of services with Console, said there were “ongoing concerns as to the value of and processes involved in gathering information on suicide in Ireland”.

Mr Austin said it was now time to “radically review the associated data procedures and move beyond our reliance on provisional data and outdated systems”.

“We need to find out why these trends are happening but the figures we have are provisional when what we need is accurate and timely data.”

“These statistics will be scrutinised in the coming weeks but we won’t have the real picture of suicide in Ireland in 2012 for several years. We need significant changes and investment in research as the lack of accurate information is impeding our ability to understand and respond to the awful tragedy of suicide.”

He noted a recent call by Prof Kevin Malone of UCD school of medicine for the implementation of a real-time database for teen and young adult suicides.

"This would be one effective way to ensure accurate and early identification of trends and clusters, helping agencies and services to understand the specific problems and hopefully, respond sooner," Mr Austin said.

He said the provisional registration figures from the CSO did offer some insight.

Some 81 per cent of deaths recorded as suicide last year were male, in line with previous years. This also reflected international trends.

The overall rate of suicide was “relatively consistent” in recent years, but was up on figures in the 1980s and 1990s.

“In 2010 our rate of suicide ranked 6th lowest in the EU and this position is unlikely to change dramatically.”

Mr Austin welcomed the drop in deaths in the 15 to 24 age category, a demographic for which we had the 4th highest rate of suicide in the EU.