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Dublin: 17°C Thursday 19 May 2022

'He left a psychiatric ward, got in my taxi and then jumped off a cliff'

Concerns have been raised over support services for people with suicidal ideation who check out of psychiatric services over the last number of weeks.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A TAXI DRIVER has told how he took a fare from near a psychiatric ward to Howth, where the man subsequently took his own life.

Concerns have been raised over support services for people with suicidal ideation who check out of psychiatric services over the last number of weeks.

These concerns prompted the taxi driver to tell his story.

Derek* picked a man up in Dublin’s city centre in April. The man asked to be taken to Howth, with Derek realising that something was amiss.

“I could tell that something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what was wrong until the latter stages of the journey.

Once I got him to Howth and he had gotten out of the car, I called gardaí who did everything that they could, but by the time they’d arrived, he had jumped off the cliff.

“I had a funny feeling that he was going to do something and it was unfortunately witnessed by a group of Spanish students.”

Derek learned from gardaí that the man, in his 50s, had checked himself out of a psychiatric unit just minutes beforehand.

The incident deeply affected Derek, who rang the Samaritans in the aftermath of the incident.

I wanted to know if there was anything more that I could have done. But they told me that there was nothing. Even if I had have delayed it, if his mind was made up to that extent, he was going to do it.

Derek says that the suicide has made him more open to passengers’ problems.

“I always thought I was pretty compassionate, but I’ve asked a couple of passengers who seemed down if they wanted to open up, given that I’d never see them again.

“It’s hard to explain, but one chap really opened up about his problems.”

The HSE has thus far declined to comment, saying that it does not comment on individual cases.

Medical sources say the law doesn’t help them in these situations.

“Unless a person is obviously a danger to themselves or others, we can’t hold them,” said one hospital worker who didn’t wish to be named.

“That puts us in a big bind, because we can’t hold adults against their will forever.”


  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634

  • Console 1800 201 890

  • Aware 1890 303 302

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

*Not his real name. His name is known to TheJournal.ie, but he would prefer to stay anonymous

This is a part of a series of articles on support services for those at risk of suicide on TheJournal.ie.

If you have a story you would like told, email in confidence to paulhosford@thejournal.ie

Read: Two patients leave psychiatric unit and take their own lives within days

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