Ireland’s suicide rate now stands at a shocking 600 deaths per year – and experts believe the figure is rising as the country experiences the pain of recession.
A report in the Irish Sun on Sunday says that as many as three people a day are taking their own lives in Ireland.
The figure is greater than those killed in road crashes, with experts believing that many undetermined deaths could also be suicides.
The Samaritans organization has told the paper that help-lines are under pressure with the massive volume of calls. They take one call every five seconds; every 57 seconds someone calls the Samaritans with suicidal feelings.
The majority of callers are men in their 30s as the recession deepens.
Console chief Ciaran Austin warned: “This is Ireland of tough times. There is no doubt that unemployment makes things worse.
“We provide bereavement counselling and we have to keep our chin up.
“It’s tough for the organizations providing services too.”
Austin also told the paper that GAA clubs are now contacting the Samaritans for help with dealing with suicides in their community.
He added “We have had an increase in demand for bereavement counseling for GAA clubs across the country.
“When young men in clubs take their own lives, players and friends left behind need to be consoled and helped to know how best to handle the situation.
“After a traumatic suicide, people can be afraid that it is going to happen again. More employers are also asking after our services these days and community groups.”
The paper reports that research suggests rural areas have a higher rate of suicide.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny opened an outreach center for Console in Swinford, Co Mayo last week.
Kenny said: “Every year more than 500 people take their own lives, often we don’t know why they do so. But we know the consequences.
“The empty chair at the table, the sound of the key in the door, the quick heavy step up the path, the tubs of hair-gel left half-used on the bathroom shelf, the signature scent on the landing, the dream of grandchildren — are all no more.
“Instead there’s pain. Torture. Unending cruelty to the heart, the mind, the soul. And where there is... there is Console.”
Charity founder Paul Kelly added: “When approached by members of the community in Swinford, Console simply had to respond to their needs.
“When a family, workplace or community loses someone close to suicide, it is crucial they get the right support. That is why we are here.”
The Irish Sun also reports that the National Suicide Research Foundation recently looked at 190 cases of suicide in Cork city and county between September 2008 and March 2011.
Their study revealed that almost 40 percent were unemployed and 32 percent had worked in construction.
Director Paul Corcoran said: “The findings are not a coincidence. There is clear evidence that the recession has impacted on the rate of suicidal behaviour in Ireland.
“Before the recession, the Irish rate of suicide was stable and may have been decreasing.
“The advent of the recession changed this trend and we have seen significant increases in suicide deaths and self-harm presenting to hospital, increases that have been most evident in young men.”
The most recent figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office show there were 552 suicides recorded in 2009, up nine percent on the previous year. Of those, 443 were men and 109 women took their own lives.
The figures show 80 percent of victims were men with an average age of just 36.
Corcoran added: “The CSO figures also confirm that suicides among men in Ireland rose sharply as the economy went into severe recession.”