A new report has discovered evidence of a suicide cluster involving 18 young people in Cork who took their own lives.

The 18, mainly adolescent and young men, died between September 2008 and March 2010 according to the Irish Examiner.

The research by the National Suicide Research Foundation discovered the links between the 18 deaths in the one area of Cork.

The evidence came to light after interviews carried out by a special research team, the Suicide Support and Information System.

The paper reports that the work of this pioneering project has ‘all but ceased’ in recent months due to a discontinuation of $110,000 in HSE funding.

The research team made contact with families of the suicide victims through the coroner’s court to glean an insight into the lives of those who died.

Researchers discovered that the young people involved were strongly connected to their peers and less connected to their families.

Research also identified a ‘subgroup of families’ with severe psychosocial problems in which multiple family members had taken their lives.

The paper reports that the research team had stayed in contact with families for up to one year following the inquests and sometimes beyond, depending on the level of support required by the families.

Labor Party senator John Gilroy, himself a psychiatric nurse in Cork for over 20 years, told the paper that he is aware of up to 50 deaths by suicide in certain areas of Cork in the last four years.

He also expressed his disappointment that a proven and potentially life-saving initiative like the Suicide Support and Information System was not going to be funded in future.

An independent report carried out on the work of the SSIS and seen by the Irish Examiner, revealed that the cluster data from Cork was presented to the Department of Health last year.

The report noted that the Department would not have known about the suicide cluster and emerging clusters but for the work of the Suicide Support and Information System.

It also noted that, due to the funding problems, no commitment can be given to bereaved families that ongoing support can be provided in the middle to long term.

No new interviews are being carried with the families of the suicide victims even though a further 21 suicide cases have been identified since 2010.

National Suicide Research Foundation director Dr Ella Arensman said: “The response to such startling information from key stakeholders has been disappointing.”

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