Suicide in Ireland is rising at an alarming rate, a Dublin conference to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day has been told.

The official statistics show that there were 527 suicides in the Republic in 2009, a 24 per cent increase year on year.

But experts told the Dublin gathering that almost another 200 deaths that year were of an underdetermined nature.

It is believed that the true figure for 2009 was between 600 and 700 and of those, 80 per cent were male.

The figures are believed to be higher again for 2010 with experts warning that the effects of the recession will drive the suicide statistics up.

The theme of the conference was work related suicide and the chief speaker was Ciaran Austin of the Console 1Life suicide prevention helpline.

“The increase in such statistics during the recession has been very quietly accepted,” said Austin.

“For most people the simplest way to help is to show you care.”

Eamon Devoy, chairman of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions health and safety committee, told the conference that there had been 48 deaths in the workplace in 2010.

“Quite a number of those were suicides. Such events at work have a horrific effect on colleagues,” said Devoy.