OFFICIAL records show that four times more people from Clare died by suicide than on the county’s roads last year, and those working in the field of suicide prevention say the number in reality is much higher.

Yesterday (Monday) there were seven cases of suspected suicide listed for the coroner’s court relating to deaths last year.

Preliminary figures from the CSO suggest that there were eight deaths by suicide in 2011, but local Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention Bernie Carroll maintains that when the preliminary figures are finalised they will be higher.

She also pointed to the number of undetermined deaths recorded every year, including drowning and gun shot wounds, many of which are thought to be people taking their own lives.

“A number of road traffic accidents in Ireland are considered to be suicide but that is difficult to prove so it is returned as an undetermined death,” she said.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 15- to 34 years in Ireland, accounting for a quarter of all deaths in this age group.

The rate of suicide in Clare is averaged at 13 per 100,000 of the population, making it the 10th highest county in Ireland for deaths of this nature. And while young men remain the most likely to die by suicide, the number is increasing across the age demographic.

“Information coming from the CSO would suggest we could expect a rise in suicide for young women,” warned Ms Carroll.

On average there are 500 suicides in Ireland every year, but when the figure includes undetermined deaths that number is as high as 600.

As many as 1.5 per cent of all deaths are thought to be suicide.

As well as dealing with cases of suicide, emergency services in Clare dealt with 16 attempted suicides in the Ennis district, four times more than death by suicide, last year.

Ireland has had the highest increase in suicide. The number of people dying by suicide in Ireland began to rise significantly in the 1970s and peaked in 1998. As many as 80 percent of those that die from suicide in Ireland every year are men.

Ms Carroll explained that the break down is best explained by the methods each gender is more likely to use when taking their own lives.

The majority of male suicides in Ireland were by hanging, while women were more likely to overdose on drugs giving emergency services time to save them.

Ms Carroll also works to make people aware of intentional self-harm.

While the country has a National Register for “self harm” the majority of people who hurt themselves do not present for any medical assistance.

“It is important to note that not everybody who engages in self harm wants to die. Roughly 600,000 people engage in self harm but the majority do not seek help as it is very much secret.”

While more women that men self harmed in the past, latest studies show that the number of men self-harming has increased.

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Claire Gallagher is a multi-award winning journalist with more than 15 years experience in media. The Galwegan began her career in radio working in news and current affairs. Having spent a year on the dark side – political PR and Spin – she returned to journalism and has since then worked mainly in print – regional and national – while continuing to work with the broadcast media. She has been with the Clare People since its foundation in 2005. She was awarded “Young Irish Medical Journalist of the Year” in June 2008 while working with the paper. Twitter @galocon Facebook ClaireGallagherClarePeople

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