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Unemployed "two or three times more likely" to die by suicide - TD

Suicidology organisation’s president and TD does concede that high rate of suicide among unemployed linked to those with psychiatric illness being less likely to have a job.

Dan Neville in his capacity as President of the Irish Association of Suicidology at the opening of its annual conference in 2005.
Dan Neville in his capacity as President of the Irish Association of Suicidology at the opening of its annual conference in 2005.
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire

THE PRESIDENT OF the Irish Association of Suicidology has warned that unemployed people are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than those who are in employment.

Dan Neville, who is also a Fine Gael TD for Limerick, was speaking at a conference in the county this week. He said that unemployment is a factor which is associated with a 70 per cent higher risk of suicide. However, he did say that “the high rate of suicide among the unemployed is partly because people with a psychiatric illness are more likely to lose their jobs”.

Despite this, said Neville at the Working Together to Prevent Suicide event in Templeglantine, “even among people with no history of serious mental illness, unemployment is associated with a 70 per cent higher suicide risk”.

He also made a link between the rise in alcohol consumption during a recession, saying that people in despair can often turn to substance misuse. He said:

When someone loses their job, there is a perceived loss of social worth. Job loss, insecurity and uncertainty coupled with economic strain and the possible threat of home repossession can have a severe impact on mental well-being.

It should be noted that there are often inter-related factors in cases of suicide – some of these are detailed in the list of risk factors on the Association of Suicidology’s website.

Neville said that implementation of A Vision to Change, recommendations from an expert group in 2006 on improving mental health services  in Ireland, is “essential”. HSE updates on implementation of those changes can be seen here but according to the recent annual report of the Inspector of Mental Health Service, there was an increase in admissions to mental health services last year.

Dr Edmund O’Dea, chairman of the Service, said that it “remains to be seen” whether the €35 million ring-fenced for improvements in 2012 will actually have to be used to keep current services running smoothly.

  • The Samaritans are available at 1850 60 90 90 or by email at jo@samaritans.org Other helpful contact numbers include Aware at 1890 303 302; Console at 1800 201 890; Pieta House at 01 601 0000, email mary@pieta.ie

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