The number of people who die by suicide in Ireland has fallen slightly in recent years, however almost 400 suicide deaths were still recorded here last year, a new report has shown.
According to the 2017 Annual Report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), 392 people died by suicide in 2017, compared to 399 in 2016, 425 in 2015 and 486 in 2014.
Almost 80% of these deaths were among men.
According to the report, this high male-to-female ratio has been a consistent feature of deaths by suicide over the years, with the highest rate among men aged between 45 and 54 years.
"These overall downward trends are welcomed, but suicide remains a complex issue requiring evidenced and targeted approaches and interventions across many different sectors," commented HSE assistant national director and head of NOSP, John Meehan.
The report was launched in Dublin by the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly. The National Suicide Research Foundation's (NSRF) Self-harm Registry Ireland 2017 Annual Report and the first Self-harm in Irish Prisons Report for 2017, from the Irish Prison Service, were also launched.
According to the NSRF self-harm registry, 11,600 presentations to hospital due to self-harm were recorded in 2017, involving 9,103 people.
While the rate of individuals presenting to hospital was 3% lower compared to 2016, and 11% lower than the peak rate recorded in 2010, it was still 6% higher than the rate in 2007.
Since 2007, the rate of self-harm among young people has increased by 21%. This has been most pronounced in females and young adults and the findings suggest that people are starting to self-harm at a younger age.
According to the report, increasing rates of self-harm, along with an increase in the use of highly-lethal methods, suggest that mental health promotion and targeted interventions are needed for young people in key transition stages.
"The increase in self-harm among young people signals an unmet need in terms of mental health services for children and adolescents. Effective interventions are needed for young people at risk of self-harm. School-based programmes to promote positive mental health should also be a priority," commented Dr Eve Griffin, manager of the National-Self-Harm Registry Ireland, NSRF.
Meanwhile, the first report on self-harm in Irish prisons is based on the Self-Harm Assessment and Data Analysis (SADA) project, which was developed by staff in the Irish Prison Service (IPS), in collaboration with the NOSP and the NSRF.
It revealed that in 2017, 233 episodes of self-harm were recorded in Irish prisons, involving 138 individuals. The rate of self-harm was higher among female prisoners and those on remand. Four episodes of self-harm resulted in the loss of life.
"I welcome the publication of this report. The issue of suicide and self-harm is a major concern in today's society, and this problem is even more emphasised in a prison setting where people are separated from family, friends and community supports.
"The SADA project allows the prison service to take an in-depth look at this issue and hopefully reduce incidents in the future," commented IPS director general, Michael Donnellan.
The reports can be viewed at here