Warning over suicide surge in jobless men
A Coroner has warned of a future suicide epidemic sparked by middle-aged men facing bleak job opportunities.
Task groups have already noted a sharp rise in the number of middle-aged men taking their own lives.
"Young males were always at a high risk but what we are now seeing is a peak in the 55-65 age groups," explained David Behan CEO of the Irish Association of Suicidology.
"You're looking at people who are losing their jobs and at that age the possibility of getting back into the workforce for the rest of their working life can be quite bleak.
"Also, emigration is not an option; they are settled in an area and can't just go off to work in Canada or Australia like young people can. Their options are limited," he added.
Kildare coroner Dr Dennis Cusack highlighted the increasing number of suicides before him when dealing with two separate inquests into the deaths of men in their 50s.
"There has been a huge increase in suicide. I have noticed in the latter months of last year and again this year that there has been an unprecedented number."
Dr Cusack urged the public to be more vigilant in the current climate: People might be experiencing difficulties around areas that they haven't before because of the state of the country.
"We should be more alert. People are under more pressure with the way things are and perhaps they are not showing it or sharing these problems with people close to them."
Referring to concerns about the future, Dr Cusack added: "Some people are saying that we are facing an epidemic, I'm not saying we are there yet but it is serious."
He also drew comparison with the steps taken to halve the number of road deaths, claiming a similar approach was now needed to tackle suicide.
The Coroner's Court heard that a 53-year-old company executive and a 59-year-old retired groundsman had taken their own lives late last year.
The latter's death occurred two months after he was admitted to hospital following an attempted overdose. "He was discharged that night and they put it down to an accident. They said he had taken one too many tablets," his son alleged in a statement to gardai.