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Donal’s message gets across – youth suicides drop 23pc

The mother of inspirational teenager Donal Walsh, who urged young people to fight for life, has welcomed a 23pc drop in the number of youths dying by suicide last year.

However, although deaths in the 15-24 age group dropped to 57, there was a 26pc rise in the 45-54 age group where 108 people took their lives last year.

Elma Walsh said the new figures for young people were “massive, that’s great, fantastic, its very much what Donal would have wanted”.

She hoped his message was “getting out there - to live life and appreciate what you have”.

Sixteen-year-old Donal became a national hero with his anti-suicide message as he battled against cancer. He sadly passed away in May last year.

Mrs Walsh said she was “amazed” at the increase in suicides among older people.

“A lot of emphasis is put on depression but it can be a lot of other things. It can be an economic factor, a teenage pregnancy, a death,” she said.

The reduction in young people’s deaths has reached 40pc in two years and has been welcomed by national suicide prevention charity Console.

The organisation pointed out that Ireland still has the fourth-highest suicide rate in the EU among young people.

Highest

Overall the 475 suicides last year were a drop of 6.3pc on the previous year, according to Central Statistics Office figures.

Console director of services Ciaran Austin said they wanted a real-time register so “measures can be put in place to prevent such phenomena as suicide clustering or contagion”.

He said it is difficult to pinpoint why there has been a rise in suicides among older people but added that the economic downturn affected that age group “quite substantially”.

He said the rise in deaths in the 45-54 age group mirrored the rise in calls to their helpline - 1800 247 247 - from people in this age category.

Regional figures in some areas were “alarming”, with several counties recording rates well above the national average of 10.3 per 100,000 population.

These included Cavan with a rate of 20.4 deaths per 100,000, Carlow with 20 and Kerry with 19.4, all almost double the national average.

The rates in Dublin were 9.3 for the city, 6.3 for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, 6.2 for Fingal and 6 for South Dublin.

csheey@herald.ie


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