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Government must reveal true extent of deaths by suicide - Mark Ward TD

9 December, 2020 - by Mark Ward TD

Mark WardSinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has asked that the government provide statistics on deaths by suicide this year.

During a debate on mental health in the Dáil today, Teachta Ward questioned how the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has seen recent figures on suicides, which have not been shared with the opposition.

Teachta Ward said: “The tragedy of suicide is one that has touched nearly all sectors and communities in Ireland.

"In response to a parliamentary question I submitted in relation to the amount of people who died by suicide this year, I was told that:

'All unnatural deaths, which includes deaths from intentional self-harm, must be referred to the Coroner's Office.

'However, the Coroner's Court did not hold public hearings because of the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this would impact on the number of deaths registered and subsequently assigned an Underlying Cause of Death of intentional self-harm.

'In layman’s terms, this basically means that deaths by suicide are not being counted in real time.'

"But, on September 17, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that 'the most recent figures I have seen, we have seen a decrease in suicide in Ireland and a decrease in people self-harming. That is very welcome, but we have a long way to go.'

“I think it’s quite worrying that I, as the lead opposition spokesperson for mental health, cannot get access to the same information that the Tánaiste has access to.

“The government must reveal the true extent of deaths by suicide. Such data is very important.

"It informs policy and allows public reps to put forward solutions. But without this information, we are hampered in putting forward ideas that could help reduce deaths by suicide.

“Today, I asked the Minister to share the information that the Tánaiste claimed he has." 

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