THE SUICIDE rate in Limerick is more than five times higher for men, the latest figures from the Central Statistic Office show.
A total of 28 men and five women officially died by suicide in Limerick last year, but Limerick deputy Dan Neville believes the true figure could be much higher.
The Fine Gael TD and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, said the national seven per cent rise in suicide figures for last year is “extremely concerning”.
Due to the need for continued support in this area, he said 500 gardai in Limerick have now been trained by the National Office for Suicide Prevention to deal with those at risk of dying by suicide.
In Limerick city 11 men died by suicide, with no female deaths recorded, and in the county there were 17 males deaths and five female deaths. Across Munster there were 166 deaths by suicide last year.
The figures show that nationally 525 people died by suicide in 2011; 439 of them were men and 86 were female. Some 193 of those who died were under 35 years of age.
The number of suicides in 2010 was 490, with males comprising 84% of all suicide deaths in 2011.
The number of undetermined deaths coupled with many unidentified suicides, such as singular occupancy road crashes, means the real number of people who died by suicide last year is over 600, said deputy Neville.
He said the recession, unemployment and financial pressures are factors amongst men.
“Those who are unemployed are between two and three times more likely to take their lives than those who are in employment. Being out of work has an especially profound effect on the young and the middle-aged.”
He said those who lose their jobs, suffer a severe reduction in their income, or risk losing their home or relationships, are most at risk.
However, he said people must recognise that those who die by suicide do not wish to die, they just do “not know how else to deal with their difficulties.”
Pieta House, the suicide prevention charity, have recently extended their opening hours in Limerick due to increasing demand. “I think Limerick, more than any other place where we’ve opened, is not afraid of looking at suicide in the eye and they’re not afraid to seek help,” said Joan Freeman, their chief executive.
The centre in Limerick, which offers counselling free of charge, can be contacted on 061 484444.
A full version of this story was published in the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated July 21, 2012