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Recession impacting upon levels of Suicide – Cullinane

12 January, 2012


The government needs to take steps to safeguard against increasing levels of suicide in the current depressed economic climate, according to Sinn Féin Senator, David Cullinane.

Speaking in the Seanad today the Waterford Senator stated that suicide often increased in times of recession, due to a number of factors, and that action was needed to counteract that.

Senator Cullinane said:

“International research shows evidence of a trend that suicide increases in times of recession. According to Amnesty International Greece’s suicide rate increased by 40pc in the first half of 2010.

“Regrettably, it seems that this trend is establishing here as well. Registered deaths from suicide in 2009 reached a record figure of 527, a 24% increase on the previous year, and there were 127 deaths from suicide registered in the second quarter of 2010 a further increase on 2009. The Samaritans, recorded an increase of 9% in calls in 2011, with one in eight calls of the over 400,000 calls received being recession related."

“The pressures that the recession brings affect a wide variety of people. Clearly unemployment brings with it a great deal of stress, anxiety and worry, and according to the Irish Institute of Suicidology, for every 1% rise in unemployment there is a .79% increase in suicide rates.

“However, people who are employed also face serious pressures. In the current climate, and particularly in a very competitive work environment, where margins are thin, and the stakes high, and many workplaces, public and private under enormous pressure, then clearly employees will find that pressure difficult. This is a time of financial stress, and needless to say, personal stress and anxiety as well.

“In 2007 the National Economic and Social Forum (social partnership) published its report Mental Health & Social Inclusion. It suggested various measures to safeguard mental health in the workplace. It suggested putting in place procedures for managing staff with mental health problems, the employers would participate in and support campaigns to raise awareness and challenge stigma and put in place guidelines, incentives and programmes to support people with mental health problems to stay in employment through, for example, adapted or flexible work schemes and schedules.

“Little of this has been implemented. If the Government is serious about tackling suicide prevention, it must ensure that measures are put in place to protect people’s mental health against the effects of the recession, both among the unemployed and in the workplace. But more fundamentally, it must also prioritise job creation, as the only long term solution to recession related mental illness is to bring an end to the recession, and to ease the pressure, both on the unemployed, and on those working in under resourced, and overstressed workplaces.” ENDS

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