Saturday 22 October 2016

'I had panic attacks,' says Pope as study says 4 in 5 suicides are men

Singer Niall Breslin spoke at the INM-sponsored event
Singer Niall Breslin spoke at the INM-sponsored event

The Health Service Executive said suicide rates among people under 25 are "a significant concern" as new figures revealed that 487 people died by suicide in 2013.

The National Office for Suicide Prevention's 2015 Annual Report stated that four out of every five people to die by suicide were men.

"Suicide rates in Ireland saw significant changes over the past decade, with an increase in suicide rates between 2007 and 2011.

"However, data from 2012 onwards suggest a levelling-off in the rate of suicide," it stated.


Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee said suicide prevention is everybody's concern.

She said she welcomed the fact that the death rates had stabilised but "every death is one too many."

A Government strategy launched last year to reduce suicides will continue to be implemented with the aim of reaching its 10pc target for the reduction in suicide by 2020, she said.

Last year, more than 8,700 people were treated in hospital after incidences of self-harm.

Self-harm rates have stabilised but the rate is 9pc higher than in 2007.

The Central Statistics Office data includes deaths by suicide, but the National Office for Suicide Prevention stated a proportion of deaths which are classified as undetermined are also suicides, although it is not possible to estimate those figures.

Since 2004, more than 70,000 people have received free training in suicide prevention. The HSE has increased the numbers of resource officers working on suicide prevention to 22.

This comes as Irish rugby pundit Brent Pope told how he is currently studying a Masters in Psychotherapy in the hope that he can become involved with rugby teams to help players suffering with mental health issues.

The New Zealander, who has been vocal on the issue of depression and anxiety, was speaking at the Independent News and Media sponsored Mental Health Summit about battling his own problems. Singer Niall 'Bressie' Breslin also spoke at the event.

Pope told the large audience in the Aviva Stadium about his own experience with panic attacks and anxiety, which he refers to as 'half empty heart' syndrome.

"I think what got me involved with the discussion around mental health, is that I grew up in a generation, like a lot of Irish people and men, in a small rural community.

"I was involved in sport and it was very macho driven. You were always told what a real man should be.

"It was a generational thing, when I was playing rugby you certainly couldn't go along to any team doctor with the rugby side and say 'I can't handle this stress or anxiety' because it would have been deemed as some sort of weakness," Pope told the Herald.


"There was a time in my life when I felt ashamed because I couldn't handle a certain situation and I would have panic attacks.

"We're only scraping the surface in terms of professional sports people and that's what I'd like to do.

"I'm currently studying a Masters in Psychotherapy and for the future I want to be associated with the rugby teams and unions," he added.

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