Suicide rate falls to lowest level in 20 years

Counties Monaghan and Cavan record highest rates as men account for 80pc of cases

The suicide rate has fallen to its lowest level this century, though an unknown number of cases go unreported, according to a new report.

Provisional figures show there were 352 suicides last year - 282 male and 70 female - or 7.2 per 100,000 of population, according to the 2018 annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention.

This compares to 392 - 312 male and 80 female - or 8.2 of 100,000 population in 2017 dying by suicide. Back in 2001, 519 suicides were recorded.

Counties Monaghan and Cavan had the highest rates over the past two years, the latest data shows. The lowest suicide rates were in Dublin, with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown and Fingal recording the fewest deaths by suicide relative to population.


Drawing on statistics from the Central Statistics Office, it sets out a complex table of figures since 2008 with the proviso that suicide statistics go through a series of stages over about three years - from 'provisional' when deaths are registered, to 'official' once deaths have been determined to be suicides at coronial inquests and finally to include all late registrations for a particular year.

Men continue to account for 80 per cent of all suicides - in line with global trends - and the 45 to 54 year-old age group are at highest risk.

A total of 437 people died by suicide in 2016- 350 male and 87 female - or 9.2 per 100,000. This was an increase on the 2015 figures of 425, including 335 male and 90 female, and 9.1 per 100,000.

“Indications are that additional deaths registered as ‘undetermined’ may include hidden cases of suicide,” says the report. “However it is not clear which proportion of undetermined deaths involve probable suicide cases.”

County suicide rates are measured using three-year moving averages, given the complexity of comparing years.

The highest rate for the 2016 to 2018 period, at 17.1 per 100,000, was in County Monaghan followed by County Cavan with a rate of 16.7 per 100,000 of population. In Cork city the rate was 15.3 per 100,000 - all well ahead of the national rate of 8.2.

The lowest rates were all in Dublin - 2.4 per 100,000 in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, 3.2 per 100,000 in Fingal, 3.9 per 100,000 in Dublin city and 4.2 per 100,000 in South Dublin. Outside Dublin the lowest rate was in neighbouring county Meath, with 5.8 per 100,000.

Minister of State for mental health and older people, Jim Daly, described suicide prevention as a "priority" for Government.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised, you can contact:

Samaritans, freephone: 116123 or text 087-260 9090

Pieta House, freephone: 1800-247247 or text HELP to 51444

Aware, freephone: 1800-804848,

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times