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The closure of traditional meeting places in rural Ireland and forced isolation is being blamed for an increase of suicide among elderly people, according to experts.

South Kerry coroner Terence Casey says the worrying trend has been on the increase since 2005.

Casey said that there was a false perception in society that suicide was something that only existed among young people, which is not the case.

"There is a gap in social life in rural Ireland. We have to question the suicide trend in the older age groups," Mr Casey told the Irish Examiner.

In the past five years alone, the highest number of suicides existed among the elderly in the region of south Kerry, he added.

Figures from the coroner’s office in Offaly, Clare and Kerry have highlighted an increase in the number of suicides among older age groups.

Shane Maher, the head of the Campaign Against Suicide urged the issue of post-retirement suicide needs to be addressed also.

Maher has been lobbying for the establishment of a drop-in center in Limerick city center.

"People lose their sense of purpose; their routine changes and they can become isolated. It is a sudden jolt," Mr Maher told the Irish Examiner.

"Sudden withdrawal from occupation, routine and work colleagues, which can sometimes be accompanied by the death of a spouse, can be devastating. We propose the introduction of retirement clubs and job sharing post-60 to address suicide post-retirement," he added.

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