Children as young as nine are being treated for self harm in the North West and figures for those seeking help from suicide awareness groups in Co Leitrim are rising dramatically according to STOP spokesperson, Mary McTernan.
Speaking with the Leitrim Observer at the start of World Suicide Prevention Week, Mrs McTernan said that mental health and, in particular, suicide prevention was still woefully underfunded.
Referring to a recent study by UCD Professor of psychiatry, Kevin Malone, Mrs McTernan said that it was clear the numbers of people self harming was increasing at an alarming rate.
The study compared data from 1993-1998 and 2003 to 2008 and found that the suicide rates for children and teenagers has doubled in Ireland since 1993.
The study also found there was a 40 percent increase in the rate of suicide among boys aged 15 to 17 since 1993, with the number of girls under 18 taking their own lives doubling during the same period.
Other studies have shown that members of the travelling community were six times more likely to take their lives than the settled population and members of the gay community were a staggering seven times more likely to self harm.
While nearly 500 deaths last year were attributed to suicide a further 193 deaths returned an undetermined verdict and Mrs McTernan said that it was clear that well in excess of 700 people were taking their lives in Ireland each year – far higher than the number dying on our roads.
See this week’s Leitrim Observer for the full story.