The Irish Times view on suicide trends: Services need funding

Half of suspected suicide deaths in Dublin South last year involved women with young, school-going children

Darren Martin, whose daughter April took her own life last year in Dublin, holds a pendant with her photograph. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

An alarming rise in the number of female suicides in areas of south-west Dublin, particularly among single mothers, calls for the re-establishment of childcare and community services that were deprived of funding following the economic crash of 2008.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe comes from an inner-city constituency and should be well aware of the incomes-based social pressures facing some of his constituents in terms of housing, childcare, mental health facilities and alcohol/drug abuse. These pressures have been exacerbated because of a reduction in multi-disciplinary care by State agencies. Last year, half of the suspected suicide deaths in the HSE area of Dublin South involved women with young, school-going children whose lives had been marked by poverty, early school-leaving, adverse childhood experiences and possible substance abuse. This represented a three-fold increase in ratio terms.

A report on the community sector, published in 2012, recorded a 35 per cent cut in State funding over five years for basic supports involving education, personal development, youth inclusion and social contact facilities. These services remain under-funded and, because of the relative poverty of those directly affected, representations on their behalf tend to be shuffled down the priority queue. Suicide is an act of despair. The surge in the number of young mothers taking their own lives reflects not just personal hopelessness but the likely prospects for their children within deprived communities. Providing new hope to impoverished families will require specifically directed investment and a partnership approach by statutory and community organisations.

Official reports on drug dealing, crime and youth alienation strategies during the Celtic Tiger years led to co-operative interventions, involving improved family support, education, childcare facilities and drop-in centres, funded by government. But economic forces undid those socially enlightened actions. Investment in such services should now take precedence.