09 September 2010

1 Million People Die By Suicide Worldwide Every Year - Fitzgerald

Depression linked to Recession?

Local Fine Gael Senator Frances Fitzgerald, on World Suicide Prevention Day, said that the World Health Organisation estimates that about 1million people die by suicide every year.

“This is a very conservative estimation of the number of deaths but it represents a global mortality rate of 60 per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. There has been a substantial increase in suicide levels in Ireland in 2009 - the recent figures show a 25% increase in suicide in 2009 over 2008 - which must be addressed by the political system. It must be addressed by government,” said Senator Fitzgerald who is the cofounder of a Cross Party Group on Mental Health.

“It is often asked how we can connect with each other in a world that appears now so disconnected. I strongly believe that if our communities work towards being better connected through sharing information, expertise and time we can do a great deal to help those who are in need, desperate and vulnerable to suicide. To do this requires leadership and requires communities and experts to work together as they do so well in our local centre for the prevention of self-harm and suicide, Pieta House,” continued Frances Fitzgerald.

“The figures published for Ireland show that there was an increase from 424 deaths by suicide in 2008 to 527 deaths by suicide last year. The real figure is much higher. Alarmingly, there were 195 deaths of undetermined intent in 2009. The Government must recognise this crisis which requires an emergency response. Instead, it has been refusing to even address the issue and have reduced resources to suicide prevention,” continued Frances Fitzgerald.

“The Cross Party Group on Mental Health, which I helped found, had a presentation on depression in the recession recently. The statistics are alarming. During recessionary times there is a certain gap between material needs and resources. In economic downturns frustration increases as an increasing proportion of people cannot realise their financial goals. This frustration can increase aggression including suicide. Research published in 1957 found that the absolute value of change in the stock market was associated with an increase in male suicide rates in 1929 to 1940,” explained Senator Fitzgerald.

“There have been numerous studies of this type over the years. Most continue to illustrate a clear link between unemployment and suicide. This is especially true for males. In the figures released, 80% of the deaths by suicide were among men. There is clear evidence that suicide links is linked to financial difficulties,” continued Senator Fitzgerald.

“The World Health Organisation has identified that the potential psychological impact of economic recession on public health is severe. Job loss, job insecurity, job uncertainty, economic strain, loss of income, home repossession and restricted access to credit leads to a reduction in mental well-being, an increase in mental health problems and mental ill health, increased substance abuse - especially alcohol and drugs - and intimate relationship break down and divorce. There is a loss of perceived self social worth. There is a loss of purpose and daily structure, reduced social contact and increased social isolation. An increased risk of suicidal behaviour occurs with both non fatal self harm and completed suicide,” said Senator Fitzgerald.

“All studies show higher rates of ill health, psychological and physical in those who are unemployed. A protracted period of unemployment of people who are at a young age seems to have a particularly delirious effect on the mental health of young men regardless of their social background. I believe the Minister for Health & Children and the HSE must respond to the change in society that has led to higher suicides and mental illness problems,” concluded Senator Frances Fitzgerald.