In a statement marking World Suicide Prevention Day, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has said that all kinds of stigmas and negative social attitudes, not solely those relating to mental health, need to be addressed in the effort to prevent suicide.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to focus on what we all need to do as a society to help reduce the terrible toll of suicide which is widespread in Ireland today. Over the summer several people across my constituency have taken their own lives. It is a devastating reality, affecting a wide circle of family, friends and community of each deceased person.
“Much work has been done to address the stigma traditionally attached to people with mental illness and progress has been made in this regard. But all kinds of stigmas and negative social attitudes need to be addressed in our efforts to help prevent suicide.
“We know that many men who take their own lives do so because they fear they cannot face the family and social consequences of what is seen and judged as failure to succeed and to provide a living for their dependents. I have no doubt, based on personal experience, that this trend has grown as a result of the recession.
“Other negative social attitudes contribute to this tragedy in a similar way. In some cases what are seen as failures or mistakes are judged negatively by some in the community, often leading to derision, bullying or isolation and for those concerned the pressure can be too much.
“Traditional and deeply ingrained societal prejudices, such as homophobia, also take a terrible toll and we know that a disproportionate number of young gay men take their own lives.
“It is right that we encourage people with worries and mental health issues to talk through their problems. But we, as a society, also need to re-examine our attitudes, our notions of status and our often negative judgements of people which can lead to very tragic consequences. We all have a role to play in helping to prevent the tragedy of suicide.”