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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C

Suicide is killing the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Ireland

A new report highlights increased risks to individuals, like workers on zero-hour contracts or those who are facing losing their homes.
Living in poverty shouldn’t mean losing your life. Going through difficult times, like losing your job or being in debt, shouldn’t mean not wanting to live. But that is what’s happening in the UK and Ireland today. Suicide is killing the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people, devastating families and communities.

A NEW REPORT has said inequality in Ireland is “driving people to suicide”. The report, published by Samaritans today, highlights areas of risk to communities and individuals, including the closure and downsizing of business, those in manual, low-skilled employment, those facing unmanageable debt and those with poor housing conditions.

While the report stresses there is no single reason why people take their own lives, it notes socioeconomic disadvantage is a key risk factor for suicidal behaviour.

Previous research in this area has found:

  • Suicide rates in Ireland are two times higher in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived.
  • The least skilled occupations (eg construction workers) have higher rates of suicide
  • People who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than those in employment.
  • Men in the lowest social class, living in the most deprived areas, are up to ten times more at risk of suicide than those in the highest social class living in the most affluent areas.

Today’s report also reveals the risk of suicidal behaviour is increased among those experiencing job insecurity or those engaged in non-traditional work situations such as part-time, irregular and short-term contracts with various employers.

“Suicide is an inequality issue which we have known about for some time, this report says that’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s got to change. Most important of all is that for the first time this report sets out what needs to happen to save lives, commented Samaritans’ Executive Director for Ireland Deirdre Toner.

Everyone can feel overwhelmed at times in their life. People at risk of suicide may have employers, or they may seek help at job centres, or go to their GP. They may come into contact with national and local government agencies, perhaps on a daily basis.

“Each suicide statistic represents a person. The employee on a zero- hour contract is somebody’s parent or child,” Toner said. “A person at risk of losing their home may be a sibling or a friend. And each one of them will leave others devastated, and potentially more disadvantaged too, if they take their own life. This is a call for us as individuals to care more and for organisations that can make a difference, to do so.”

The organisation is asking key people and organisations from across society, like those working in housing, in businesses, medical staff, job centre managers, to all take action “to make sure their service, their organisation, their community is doing all it can to promote mental health and prevent the tragedy of suicide”.

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: The number of people self-harming in Ireland is continuing to rise>

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