Tag Archives: suicide

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Michelle Ross on Claire Byrne Live last night, above, and her late brother Derek, top

Last night, fashion and beauty blogger Michelle Ross spoke on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live about her brother Derek who died by suicide last September.

Ms Ross’s appearance followed a blog post that she wrote about Derek, who had addiction problems and suffered from depression, last week.

Recalling the night Derek died, Ms Ross told the show:

“When I talk about Derek having addiction problems, he wasn’t a full-blown addict, he kind of just dabbled in recreational drugs. He suffered really bad with depression though and he went many times to doctors and was always offered advice on taking anti-depressants which is something that he, kind of, didn’t want to do. When he was told he should take anti-depressants, he kind of thought he could try and get himself out of it.

Months previous to him taking his own life, he had made an [suicide] attempt. Obviously he wasn’t successful at that stage and we were sent to an A&E department and, after hours of waiting to be seen, he was sent home with a letter in his hand for a referral appointment for two months’ time.”

“We got the referral letter to out local GP office. On the following morning, I contacted the office myself and just basically said to them, ‘we’ve got our referral letter’ [to go and see a psychiatrist]. He had seen a psychiatrist that night in the A&E department and they said that they couldn’t help him there. When I contacted the GP the following morning they said, ‘oh yeah, we received the referral from the hospital last night’ and they gave me an appointment for two months’ time.”

“I kicked up a bit of a fuss about that and refused to get off the phone until I got an earlier appointment. I didn’t get anything and then a friend of the family arranged for Derek to go and see a counsellor in Coolmine. And he went for that counselling session and then it kind of just went by the wayside”

We didn’t know where to turn to. We weren’t offered any advice about any organisations that we could go to and seek help from ourselves, as a family, for Derek, and he was willing to go and get help. He wanted to get his head right but we just didn’t know what to do.”

Meanwhile, University of Limerick students Caolan O’Donnell, Ciaran Cleary and Ciaran English were in the audience.

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Last week, they made a video – for Caolan’s campaign for welfare officer at UL – which aimed to raise awareness about mental health.

Caolan (above far right) said:

“The fact that we don’t have a minister for mental health is an embarrassment. As in, it’s clearly a massive, massive issue. 131 students on average, a year in Ireland, die by suicide. How is that being ignored?”

Watch back Claire Byrne Live in full here

If only they knew… (Michelle Ross, needsnotwantsblog.com)

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Clear Haze writes:

“Recently a well-known comic musician from Limerick described his generation as either getting on planes or jumping in rivers. With a suicide rate of about twice the national average, Limerick City is an extreme example of the national mental health and suicide crisis. 

Jack Olohan met with the Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol to discuss their work and the problems being faced on a daily basis. In the run-up to the election the issue of mental illness and suicide rates in Ireland must be clearly addressed.”

Previously: My Generation

Earlier: Facebook Update

Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol

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From top: Caoilte O Broin, who was found in the River Liffey on January 2, after going missing on December 29, 2015; and smiling face masks

You may recall the death of Caoilte O Broin.

Caoilte suffered from mental health problems and drank heavily, meaning he had what is termed  ‘dual diagnosis‘, something most mental health services in Ireland will not treat.

Tomorrow night Caoilte’s family and friends will hold a silent candlelit vigil outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin, at 7pm.

They will distribute smiling face masks to represent how people tend to hide their mental health illnesses.

Previously: An Avoidable Death

Caoilte’s Dual Diagnosis

Pics: Cat O Broin

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Stephen Byrne

Lisa Naylor writes:

This isn’t my first time contacting you about the mental health services in our country, but sadly today I am not writing on my own behalf.

On Friday, the 15th of January, Stephen Byrne attended Beaumont A&E to seek medical assistance. He was 20, a devoted father and suicidal. A few days prior, he had attempted to hang himself multiple times while in police custody; at that time he was brought to the Mater but was released.

Despite informing staff at Beaumont of his intent to commit suicide, he was discharged. The only help he was offered was that his file would be sent to his clinic in Ballymun.

On Tuesday, the 19th of January, Stephen went missing; his body was discovered two days later, on his daughter’s second birthday. To date, nobody from the Ballymun clinic has made contact with Stephen’s family.

As anyone with mental health difficulties knows, asking for help when you are at your lowest is incredibly difficult. It takes unbelievable strength to fight your own mind and reach out. This is especially true for young men, as historically our country has stigmatised those with mental illnesses as weak or failing in some way.

Men are statistically less likely to seek treatment for mental health issues, but they are four times more likely to die by suicide then women. Yet, when a young man found the courage to walk into an A&E department he was turned away, with devastating consequences.

I know all too well the pain and desolation of reaching out when all you want to do is die, only to be dismissed and invalidated by the very people who are supposed to offer aid. It might sound histrionic to some, but they might as well help you to step onto the ledge.

After my last suicide attempt, as soon as I regained consciousness I was discharged from Beaumont A&E without ever speaking to a doctor, let alone a member of the psychiatric team. I know a young woman who just last week attempted suicide inside the hospital grounds, and was simply patched up and sent on her way.

I know that there are many people with similar accounts, especially those with a history of self-harm or suicide attempts. This is because certain hospitals, as a result of overcrowding and staff shortages, have a policy whereby patients who present more than a handful of times with self-inflicted injuries, including suicide attempts, are no longer referred to the psychiatric team for assessment. We are seen as a waste of resources.

This is not just a local issue, across the nation there are thousands of people waiting for referrals, many of whom will have to travel for hours for an appointment as a result of hospital closures. In some areas the wait for a psychology referral is two years. In 2014 nearly 3,000 children and adolescents were on waiting lists for psychiatric referrals and children are routinely admitted to adult psychiatric units.

As a country we are finally starting to break the draconian cycle of shame and secrecy that surrounds mental illness, but our mental health service remains inadequate, underdeveloped and underfunded.

The Government and politicians are quick to promise change and reforms, but while we wait for them to turn words into actions more and more lives will be lost. Sadly any improvements will be too late for Stephen, his family and his little girl, Ava.

Stephen asked for help and he was rejected; someone decided he was not important enough for their time, their care or their compassion. At what point does someone’s life become dispensable? Who are we supposed to turn to if our own healthcare system deems us unworthy?

They tell people suffering from mental health difficulties to ‘speak up’; to talk to a professional; to not suffer in silence. They ask for our trust, and then break it.

Ask yourself, if you were living in hell; if you were in so much pain that you would take your own life to escape it, would you put your survival in the hands of an institution that will likely make your life even more unbearable?

The Samaritans: 116 123 (free)

Console: 1800 247 247

A life lost (Lisa Naylor, Full Of Muchness)

Previously: Please Listen To Lisa

Yesterday: ‘Caoilte’s Story Is Not Uncommon’

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Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin

Patsy McGarry, in the Irish Times, reports:

Speaking at a Mass in Lucan Co Dublin marking the 10th anniversary of suicide support organisation Pieta House, [Archbishop Diarmuid Martin] said it would not be right not to accept the church’s role in fomenting such taboos.

It would not be honest for me to stand here this afternoon and not recognise that the Church in Ireland and farther afield contributed greatly to the level of taboo which surrounded suicide,” he said.

He continued that “a Church which loses the sense of the priority of mercy gets trapped in a priority of rules, and loses the meaning of those rules. The preaching of Jesus was constantly directed against those who imposed burdens on others and never lifted a hand to help.

That rigidity and hypocrisy remains always a temptation. It will not be combated simply by homilies and critique, no matter how important they are.”

Church ‘contributed greatly’ to taboos on suicide – Martin (Irish Times)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Caoilte O Broin, who was found in the River Liffey on January 2, after going missing on December 29, 2015

You may recall an anonymous article published on Joe.ie, entitled ‘My brother says he wants to kill my family and no one can help us‘ in early December.

The piece was written by Catriona O Broin about her brother Caoilte, who suffered from mental health problems and extreme psychosis for several years.

He was found dead in the River Liffey on January 2.

In yesterday’s Sunday Business Post, the paper’s health editor Susan Mitchell reported:

Catriona said the family made numerous efforts to engage with Caoilte’s psychiatrist, but were unsuccessful. They repeatedly tried to have him committed. They were unsuccessful in that too. Caoilte refused in-patient care and they were left powerless.

Catriona said a key problem they encountered was the difficulty in getting care for someone with a dual diagnosis like Caoilte.

Dual diagnosis is the terms used when a person suffers from both a substance abuse problem and another mental health issue such as depression or an anxiety disorder. Catriona said that because Caoilte drank heavily, the doctor insisted that nothing could be done to help him. But he drank “because he was in pain”, she said.

Dual Diagnosis Ireland said most mental health services in Ireland will not treat both conditions. For example, if you have difficulties abstaining from alcohol due to  depression, you cannot enter most rehabilitation services. Yet you cannot get your depression treated until your addition to alcohol has been addressed.

“It’s a postcode lottery depending on where you live or whether you have private health insurance,” said Carol Moore, co-founder of the charity Dual Diagnosis Ireland.

Eighty-five per cent of people with an alcohol addiction also had a mental health problem; yet the vast majority cannot access the mental health service.”

The O Broin family are angry at a mental health service they believe failed them – and their brother.

“His death marks the end of a mental health battle lasting many years and punctuated by repeated failure of the HSE to provide adequate help, as well as outright refusal to listen to or cooperate with our family’s appeals for support. I fully believe their brazen negligence played a role on several levels in his ultimately avoidable death,” wrote Caoilte’s brother Daniel on his Facebook page.

The HSE is aware of this story. In a statement, it said, “We take the death of anyone known to our services very seriously. For reasons of privacy, we don’t comment on individual cases.”

The Samaritans 116 123 (free)
Console 1800 247 247

A family’s tragedy: We told HSE our brother would kill himself (Sunday Business Post)

My brother says he wants to kill my family and no one can help us (Joe.ie)

Thanks Shane Gillen

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Dr Julien Mercille addresses the lack of coverage of the the 500 suicides caused by austerity, according to a major Irish study released on the same day of the Berkeley tragedy.

Dr Mercille writes:

On Tuesday, we learned about two tragedies: one has received extensive coverage, but the other has been ignored by the Irish media.

The first tragedy is, of course, the six Irish students who died in Berkeley, California, due to the collapse of a balcony, while away in the United States for the summer.

The second tragedy is that austerity and recession have resulted in 500 deaths by suicide in Ireland between 2008 and 2012, according to a major study by a team of researchers at University College Cork released two days ago [1].

Those are “excess” suicides, i.e., suicides that happened on top of the number of suicides that would have been expected if pre-recession trends in suicide rates had continued unchanged after 2008. As I write this, the study got zero mention in the whole Irish media except for one short article in the Irish Examiner.

The study confirms that economic crisis and austerity have led to higher numbers of suicides in many countries. Previous research had looked at 54 countries in Europe and the Americas and estimated that there were 4884 excess suicides in those countries in 2009 when compared to previous years.

Another report found that over 1000 excess suicides happened in England in 2008-2010. In Spain, the economic crisis has led to an 8% increase in suicide rates. In Greece, suicides appear to have risen by more than 60% since 2007. In the United States, between 2008 and 2010, there were 4750 more suicides than expected.

The Irish study found that the bulk of the 500 excess suicides are accounted for by men (the rate of suicide for women has been little affected by the recession and austerity).

One reason is most likely the loss of men’s construction jobs in the wake of the housing bubble collapse, which has led to unemployment and mental health problems that can lead to suicide.

However, there have also been 5029 more male and 3833 more female cases of self-harm (excluding suicide) than if pre-recession trends had continued, and thus women also have felt negative consequences.

The Irish media gave us a lot of details about the students killed in Berkeley, including individual profiles, pictures, and testimonies.

But we know nothing about the 500 people who killed themselves out of desperation or for any other reason under austerity. We don’t know their names, their faces, their families, what they were doing, or the circumstances of their deaths. We don’t even know they died.

How can the difference in media attention be explained? The main reason is very simple: talking about the deaths of 500 people by suicide under austerity automatically points the finger at the governments and politicians who have implemented such a policy, in Ireland and Europe. It also points a finger at the media, which has actively supported the policy. The media has thus little interest in talking about it, just like it has little interest in documenting the negative consequences of austerity in general.

On the other hand, talking about the Irish students who died in Berkeley leads to no such accusations. It’s a tragedy, period, and therefore makes it to the front pages.

[1] Corcoran P, Griffin E, Arensman E, Fitzgerald AP, Perry IJ (2015) Impact of the economic recession and subsequent austerity on suicide and self-harm in Ireland: An interrupted time series analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology (advance access here).

@JulienMercille is lecturer at UCD and the author of The Political Economy and Media Coverage of the European Economic Crisis: The Case of Ireland (2015, Routledge). His new book, Europe’s Treasure Ireland (Palgrave), will be out in July 2015.

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Austin Daly

‘Seriously Hilary’ is an Irish writer based in Belgium.

She writes:

Austin and I met on New Year’s Day at a Mundy concert. A shy smartass with pink hair, carrying green and red striped crutches and a leg cast from his hip to his toes. We got chatting and everything around us faded. Sounds cheesy I know, but it must be true because we missed the concert – and I was a big fan.

I was 21 and in the last few months of college, he was 24 and working as a sound and lighting tech. He was on leave with a leg injury, which was due to a collapsing platform, so we hung out a lot and got to be close friends.

Two months after we first met, he lost a close friend to suicide. It tormented Austin that the last words he jokingly had said to him was “Fuck off”. I told Austin that his friend would have known that it was meant as a joke, I told him that his friend was now at peace and free from whatever pain he had been suffering, I told him he knew that Austin loved him. I told him that people don’t die because of a friendly joke. His friend had suffered from an illness. And that illness took his life. That is what I felt in my bones was the truth. So that is what I told him.

College wrapped up, so I moved back home and got a job in the town where Austin lived. He would come meet me for lunch and it was dreamy. We went for walks, giggling and holding hands like teenagers.

One weekend his parents were out of town, so I went over to watch a movie at his place. He had lit the fire. I smiled at that. But that’s the way he was. He wanted to make it cosy, so he saw nothing better than to light a fire in the middle of the summer.

We curled up on the sofa and he poured his heart out to me. He told me that he loved me, that he knew I was going to have a wonderful life. He told me stories about his best friends, even the ones I had never met. He gave me two CDs – Tori Amos’ ‘Scarlet’s Walk’ and Jeff Buckley’s ‘Mystery White Boy’ – and the dvd of ‘When Harry Met Sally’. He said he wanted me to keep them.

We watched ‘The Doors’ movie because Austin could not believe that I had never seen it. He knew the opening text of the movie by heart:

“The program for this evening is not new, you’ve seen this entertainment through and through. You’ve seen your birth, your life and death. You might recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?”

During the movie I went to the bathroom and the shower curtain was closed around the bath. For some reason it came into my mind that there was a dead person in the bath so I pulled the shower curtain open so no ghosts could hide there.

I can’t explain this; I’m not usually a morbid person. But something gave me the chills that moment. Austin and I stayed up all night talking. The next morning I offered to pay him back €20 I had borrowed from him, but he wouldn’t take it. So I hid it beside his bed when he wasn’t looking. We kissed at the door and I walked down the driveway realising that my mother was going to kill me for staying out all night. Half way down the driveway I spoke without thinking. My mouth said “Goodbye” out loud. Shocked I stopped and looked around. Austin had already gone back inside and I knew he couldn’t hear me. Strange, I thought, where did that come from?

The next day on my way to work I drove past Austin’s house. I got the sudden urge to stop and ring the doorbell just to say good morning. Instead I sent Austin a text message to ask if he was going to meet me for lunch.

While chatting with my boss’s wife over a cup of tea later that day she got a short phone call and then said the words that would change my life forever.

“That Daly kid from Liffey Lawns just killed himself. He was 24.”

I said “My boyfriend is Austin Daly. He lives in Liffey Lawns. And he’s 24.”

The next thing I remember is standing outside Austin’s house, calling his phone and ringing the doorbell again and again and again, ready to give out to him for whatever confusion had caused this misunderstanding. I fully believed that he was still in bed asleep. My boss called the police and handed the phone to me. They told me that Austin was dead and that his parents were on their way home.

No no no no no no no no, was all that was in my mind.

No no no no no no no no, was all I could say.

No no no no no no no no.

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no. I paced up and down the house like a caged animal, blinded and deafened by the enormity of this situation. I remember my mum pushed me into the shower fully clothed to try to calm me down. I don’t remember getting out or dealing with my wet clothes. Something I never will forget is the noise that came out of me, a growling, wailing noise from deep inside that I had no control over. It is a sound that people only make when someone they love has died and it rips through my heart every time I hear it.

In the days after, I realised that Austin had prepared me as best he could for the hellish situation I was now in. His open coffin replaced the sofa in his parents’ living room where we had cuddled, and in that room I met everyone he had talked about. When the priest asked me what music he should play at the funeral, I handed him the Jeff Buckley CD. Austin had burned several things from his room in the fireplace, undeveloped rolls of photo film, diaries, letters, things I guess he didn’t want anyone to have to deal with after he was gone. So, his fire wasn’t just a spur of the moment romantic idea. He had plans for those flames after I left.

The days and weeks after that are a blur. People often said to me that I shouldn’t blame myself. This confused me hugely because the feeling of guilt had never even crossed my mind. However, now that someone had planted the idea, I started to wonder about the things I had said when his friend died a few months earlier. Did I tell Austin that it was OK to die? Did I tell him that we would all understand and know that he loved us? Did I tell him that dying would take away his pain?

And what about that morning? The postman found him, in his mother’s car filled with fumes. The doctor said that his body was still warm, which puts the time of death at around the same time I passed on my way to work. Was he sitting in the car when we drove past? Was he still alive? Could I have saved him if I had followed my instincts to ring the doorbell?

I decided that there was no way I could have known. And without knowing, nothing I could have said or done would have made a difference. If he had only talked to me about how he was feeling, then I could have gotten him help. But he hid his pain from me so that I could never say “I knew and I didn’t help”. Austin didn’t want me to blame myself.

I threw myself into finding answers, into trying to understand, I attended talks about suicide prevention, joined groups for people who had lost someone to suicide, went to counseling. What I learned in that time, and what I still believe to be true to this day is the following:

– Depression is a disease, just like cancer. If left untreated, it can kill you.

– Suicide is contagious. Once it touches your life it becomes a realistic option, it becomes something that can happen.

– People who say that suicide is selfish are wrong. Austin did everything he could to soften the blow that was coming for us. He did not want or choose to die, he died because he couldn’t carry the pain of his illness anymore.

– The way to fight the staggering numbers of suicide deaths is to talk. If we would recognise depression as an illness that can happen to anyone, if we would be aware of the warning signs and know how to look after our own mental health, if we would take care and comfort each other, then we would stand a chance to fight this.

Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if you had a cold and were afraid friends would find out? Or if you had an open wound and decided not to go to the doctor for stitches?

The same way we check our breast for lumps, we should check ourselves and others for signs of depression, things like loss of interest in hobbies, increased or decreased appetite for food/sex/sleep/anything. Caring for our mental health is just as critical as taking care of our physical health. Knowing what depression is is a very powerful step towards fighting it.

Anyway.

The music venue where we first met burned down shortly afterwards.

I never went back to my job.

I still wish Austin had known that talking could have saved his life.

The story of how my heart broke (Seriously Hilary)

2015-05-11Lisa Naylor

Niamh Kelly writes:

I am writing on behalf on my friend Lisa Naylor, who is too unwell to write herself. Lisa has been battling depression and an eating disorder for many years, and has been surviving quite well until recently. Four weeks ago her community team diagnosed her with a major depressive episode and recommended that she goes into inpatient care to maintain her own safety, as she is extremely suicidal and has tried multiple times to end her life.
She has tried both the public and private system and due to overcrowding and paperwork, four weeks later she is at home alone all day every day fighting every minute to survive. She is tired and has given up. She no longer wants the pain of life and cannot keep begging for help only to be turned away at every avenue.
Below is a copy of an email she sent three days ago to the Minister for Health and the Mental Health Commission.I, and all of Lisa’s loved ones are praying and fighting her case as best we can and would really appreciate if you could highlight this issue.

My name is Lisa Naylor, I am 30 years old and I suffer from depression and an eating disorder. I have been struggling with this current period of illness for over a year and have attempted suicide multiple times and been hospitalised twice; once in John of Gods and once in Lois Bridges. I am currently under the care of Coolock Mental Health Clinic, and have been put under home care as I was seen as too unwell to attend my local day hospital.

Four weeks ago I advised my registrar that I could no longer see a way out of my depression and could not guarantee my safety. After extensive interviews with my doctor, nurses and a local consultant it was decided I needed a short stay in hospital in order to ensure my safety and give my mind a rest from the constant struggle with my self harm and suicidal impulses.

Luckily, I have health insurance, and referrals were immediately sent to St John of Gods and St Patrick’s Hospitals asking for admission for a major depressive episode. In the last four weeks I have spent my days fighting against every fibre of my being to give in to the never ending voices in my head, urging me to end my pain.

I have been self harming almost daily and spend hours face down in a toilet, forcing myself to throw up whatever I have eaten. I feel no joy, I feel no contentment, I feel nothing but self loathing and pain. All day, everyday.

I have been told that as a result of my eating disorder I must wait until the end of May for an assessment in St Pat’s, that I cannot be given a bed to keep me safe until after this date. St John of God’s refuses to answer multiple phone calls and voice mails about an admission.

I have been advised that the public ward in Beaumont is not an option as they are at crisis point. My very dedicated HSE team have literally run out of options and can give me no answers or reassurances.

I am 30, I am suffering, and I have nothing left to give. It took everything I had to tell my doctor how I felt and it was all for nothing. I am going to die because I asked for help and nobody answered.

I am not sending you this email for pity, or dramatic effect, but to highlight the fact that something is very wrong with our mental health system. I am going to die because of paperwork. Please, do not let this happen to someone else.

Lisa Naylor

Down the hole, with a bumped head and bruised soul (Lisa Naylor)

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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.

Suicide – The Figures (RTÉ Investigative Unit)