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86 people died in Irish prisons over the past 10 years

There have been calls for specialised suicide prevention programmes in prisons.

Source: depressed man image via Shutterstock

THE LATEST FIGURES from Irish prisons show almost one in six deaths over the last nine years has been by suicide.

Since 2005, some 86 people have died in one of Ireland’s prisons. The highest number was in 2006 and last year there were eight deaths.

In response to a question recently from TD Brian Walsh, Justice Minister France Fitzgerald confirmed 15 deaths in prison since 2005 have been by suicide. The issue was raised in an Oireachtas committee last summer, when a representative from the Irish Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, called on the government to support the introduction of specialised prevention programmes in prisons.

Maureen Mulligan has worked on a similar programme in the UK for 14 years and told TDs that there was a significant reduction in attempted suicide in people who had undertaken the programme. Participants were supported through counselling, natural medicine, anger management, and nutritional and fitness advice.

Fitzgerald said since January 2012, the death of any prison in custody or on temporary release is the subject of an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons as well as garda investigations.

She said that the circumstances of each death in custody and incident of self-harm are also examined by a local prevention group in each institution. These groups are required to meet quarterly or more often if necessary and their objective is to identify measure which might contribute to a reduction in the risk of deaths in the future.

If you need someone to talk to, contact:

  • Samaritans: 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Console: 1800 247 247 (Suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware: 1890 303 302 (Depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House: 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie (Suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland: 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

Read: ‘One suicide within prison is too many’>

Read: As unemployment rates rise, the risk of suicide increases>

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