The breakdown of 14 years of official figures for suicide from the Central Statistics Office revealed on RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live last night.
The data, unveiled by the RTÉ Investigations Unit, probes the “misconceptions and realities of one of Ireland’s most intractable social problems”.
Ken Foxe writes:
The figures were broken down according to geographic area, county, province, age, gender, the person’s employment status, and even the way in which the person died.
Throughout the recession, reports frequently spoke of Ireland’s suicide ‘epidemic’ as the number of people taking their own lives appeared to inexorably climb. The number of people dying in suicides each year has been rising and that figure reached a new high in 2009 when 552 people took their own lives. However Ireland’s population, all through the boom, had also risen dramatically.
Between the census of 2002 and the census of 2011, the number of people living in the Republic grew by more than 650,000. While the actual number of suicides was climbing, this was to be expected in such a rapidly growing population.
Rising unemployment, collapsing investments and negative equity were all partly blamed for the increase, yet behind the stories, the rate of suicide was not changing in the way it was being portrayed.
The rate of suicide in Ireland hit its peak in 2001 at 13.5 suicides per 100,000 people and by 2004 – a “Celtic Tiger” year in which economic growth was running at 4.6 per cent – the rate still remained at 12.2. That 2004 rate of 12.2 per 100,000 has never been exceeded since.