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“More people are now dying by suicide than on Irish roads” March 29, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Recession, Society.

This evening’s BBC Radio 4 news programme The World Tonight had a taped piece about suicide in Ireland, and how the recession has led to an increase in it. It begins at about 16 min 35 seconds into the programme:

The introduction:

As the financial crisis continues to strike across Europe, one of its impacts as well as a loss of jobs and livelihoods is an increase in the number of suicides. In Ireland, the problem is particularly marked compounded by historical sensibilities and a feeling of shame about the issue that refuses to go away.

A quote from the piece:

International research suggests that for every 1 percent rise in joblessness, there is 0.7 percent rise in the number of suicides, and Ireland’s own figures have borne that out. The year after the big crash — 2009 — at least 520 people took their own lives. That’s 25 percent up on the year before. The latest official count is only for part of 2010, but it suggests a continuing increase. And experts say many more unexplained deaths mean the real toll could be much higher.

More people are now dying by suicide than on Irish roads, and among young men, suicide is the biggest killer. That’s not unique to Ireland, but the social taboo factor is particularly strong here, in a country where suicide was a crime less than 20 years ago.

The full programme is here.


1. Popelog - March 30, 2012

Good post – this is the peak of generalised social cruelty, below which lies a mountain of needless suffering.

I can well believe the stats, Tombuktu. And furthermore, I often wonder how many road deaths are disguised suicide, especially among young men, as hinted above.

Suicide seems to be one of the characteristics of the human animal at the best of times – and associated with some existential (illusion of) individual free will – but a good proportion of the needless death and suffering can be laid at the door of totalitarian capitalism and it’s effects.

Hm… distinct lack of cheer at the Vatican this Friday morn. Apologies.


2. Metapope - March 30, 2012

Incidentally, I’d be interested to know how many of Cedar Lounge barflies are strict determinists and how many are convinced that ‘free will’ is more than a necessary illusion?


Dr. X - March 30, 2012

Men make history, but not in circumstances of their own choosing. Next to be shaved, please.


ivorthorne - April 1, 2012

People make choices but free will is nonsense. There is no ghost in the machine, or at least no ghost immune to the laws of nature.


3. cokelly1972 - March 30, 2012

Without minimising the tragic story of course, a quick comparison of the Garda Website and the 2010 report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention suggests that suicide numbers have been far higher than road fatalities in Ireland at least since 2003. I’ve whipped up a quick graph and dumped it here for quick comparison.


4. Niall - March 30, 2012

There are perhaps a number of issues raised here.

1) Is the massive decline in deaths by road accidents which has continued so far into this year. Serious praise is due to the traffic corps of the Gardaí for their efforts in this regard. Indeed if the rest of the country had the same rate as Dublin, then the rate of death by road accident would be minimal.

2) There is a massive gender imbalance in Irish suicide figures, males commit around 75% of “successful” suicides, a much higher gender imbalance than in most other European countries.

3) While the average person committing suicide is a middle aged male, young Irish males are a significant cohort at risk.

4) Just on the programme’s claim that suicide was the greatest cause of death for young people, it is the second greatest reason after accidents in 2010 (Table 2.12 CSO Summary) http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/vitalstats/2010/vstats_q42010.pdf

Whatever the number, each one is a tragedy for the family of the deceased.


5. Alan (@AlanRouge) - April 1, 2012

This has been known for years.

Vincent Browne regularly cites an Institute of Public Heath report (via Ruth Barrington) that documented some 5,000 people died prematurely due to health inequalities.

The argument is if there wasn’t as much social and economic inequality and people had equal access to healthcare then everyone would be healthier.

This is the sort of argument I think made by Richard Wilkinson too.

Incidentally he also noted that suicides can tend to be higher in societies with greater equality. In either ‘Unhealthy Societies (1996)’ or ‘The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier (2005)’ there’s a few paragraphs about Japan (one of the more equal of the planet’s capitalist societies) and suicide.

I haven’t listened to the programme linked above but when it comes to suicide it’s a more than complicated issue. There are of course some tragic stories such as that of Stefan Adami but I’m not sure you can easily equate one figure (job losses) with another (suicides) especially since the measurement of each can be fraught with error.


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