Young mothers are among other women in the poorest areas of Dublin that are committing suicide at the same rate as men for the first time in Ireland’s history.
According to an internal HSE memo to psychiatric units in the South-Central area of Dublin, “There is a new profile of women dying by suicide (early 20s to mid 30s),” which has increased the suicide rate to be on par with that of men in the city.
The Irish Times reported that one woman, April Martin, 26, took her own life in May of last year, despite appearing to be perfectly fine that Saturday afternoon. She was a young single mother and had taken her nephew to Liffey Valley for his birthday just the day before.
Women's suicide rates are rising, and experts know little about why it's happening. https://t.co/Yxy46uASRA— HuffPost (@HuffPost) June 17, 2018
Martin’s parents were on vacation with her son Brody at the time of her suicide and according to them, when she was on facetime, she was in both good spirits and form.
Martin’s mother, Karen, stated that “We had been down at the beach and I was showering Brody. We were going for lunch,” when she soon got a call from her sister Suzanne saying that April had died from hanging herself in her living room.
“She was the only girl in the family, with three brothers and they loved her to bits. She was spoilt. She did Irish dancing, loved makeup and hairdressing and she idolized Brody. That’s what we can’t understand. We seriously can’t make out what happened,” her mother said.
Many other women just like April represent this emerging demographic for suicide statistics in Ireland, who generally have “small primary school children, [aged] one-plus up to teenagers.” Usually, these women are either poor or have been in poverty, left school early, are homeless, or have had negative childhood experiences that, in some cases, led to drug and other forms of substance abuse.
In Dublin South-Central in 2017 alone, there were 37 deaths by suspected suicide and about 50 percent were reported to be women, which, according to the memo, is a trend unique to Dublin South.
In April’s case, she had been recently diagnosed with epilepsy, which caused her quite a bit of distress amid seizures and blackouts. She had also experienced homelessness with her son and was later allocated a house soon before her death.
“We know anecdotally, and it is very sensitive for families, that a lot of young women are struggling with alcohol and drugs, particularly cocaine,” said Sunniva Finlay, who coordinates Ballyfermot Star drug project.
Finlay argues that there needs to be a move to make services look pro-actively at what is going through the minds of these young women, many of whom have excess feelings of stress and isolation, and find a way to properly support them.