The coroner for the east and south of County Kerry has said that the end of corporal punishment has a direct correlation to the rise of suicide in Irish society.

Terrence Casey, who is calling for an open debate about suicide in Ireland said he believes a lack of respect for others and authority in Ireland has led to a lack of respect for life.

He told the Irish Examiner, “I think the day we got rid of corporal punishment, was the downfall of a lot of things. The respect for your neighbour’s property has gone out the door, since corporal punishment went out the door.”

He continued, “The lack of respect for your own life might follow that. I might be wrong but that is my own personal feeling.”

He also told the Cork newspaper that he has no regrets about making his comments publically as he feels it is important to make this conversation a public one.

According to Pieta House, 525 people committed suicide during 2011 and in recent months the shocking suicides of Ciara Pugsley, Erin Gallagher, and Lara Burns, young teenage girls who took their lives due to online bullying has brought the topic of suicide into the media spotlight once more.

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Casey has launched a poster campaign in association with the voluntary group Be Aware Prevent Suicide. These posters including phone numbers for various help lines will be distributed to pubs, hotels, sports clubs, and any place where people gather socially.

Despite the criticism Casey has received for speaking out, he said, “I felt, when I started speaking about suicide, that someone had to speak about it, because it was hidden, it was swept under the carpet. There’s a stigma attached to it. A stigma that shouldn’t be there any longer, but is.

“Until it comes out in the open, and people are willing to talk about it and discuss it, I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere, it’s going to go downhill. So that’s why I started talking about it, and why a lot of other people are now talking about it."

The coroner has received nasty letters and complaints but he feels that going public with the matter is important. He said, “There was one comment I passed, where I said that if only those who committed suicide could see what I see, the pain and the misery and the suffering left behind, they probably wouldn’t do it.”

He continued, “I’ve learned to live with it, to a certain extent. But what does get to me, is when I’m sitting in my Coroner’s Court, when I see six or seven families all weeping, all blaming themselves, it does get to you. It’s the hardest part of it."