February 6, 2012

Clare suicides outweigh road deaths tenfold

by Gordon Deegan

Almost 10 times as many people took their own lives in Clare last year as died on the county's roads.

According to preliminary figures from the Co Clare coroners office, 19 people took their own lives in the county in 2011. This compares to a historic low of two people dying on the county's roads during 2011.

Leading consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee said that the continuing rise in the suicide figures in Clare "is shocking and frightening".

The provisional figure of 19 people taking their life compares to 18 in 2010 and 17 in 2009.

The total for 2011 could be higher as coroner Isobel O'Dea's figures include a number of deaths where it is not possible to determine the cause.

Also, the figures for Clare are inflated by people from outside the county travelling to take their own lives at the CliSs of Moher.

Last year the Doolin Res- cue Unit recovered eight bodies of people who fell into the water at the cliffs — with a number of those from outside Clare.

"The major drop in road deaths in Clare just shows what can be done when the Government devotes resources to tackling the is- sue," said Dr Bhamjee, "and the continuing rise in suicide only highlights the Government's failure to ad- dress the growing numbers committing suicide.

"Of course, tackling the issue of suicide is far morecomplex than reducing thenumber of road deaths, butmental health needs to be amuch higher priority forGovernment." Dr Bhamjee said he believes that the effects of therecession are only adding tothe numbers taking theirown lives.

"The' official numberstaking their own lives isalways under-reported andI believe that you can add20% to the official figure." Last year, Dr Bhamjeecame under fire afterproposing that the Government should add lithiumsalts to a public water supplyon a pilot basis to reducedepression and suicide.

Lithium is sometimesutilised by doctors as amood stabiliser and is usedin the treatment of depres-sion.

He repeated his call sayingthe Government should determine where there are hotspots of suicide and addlithium salts to water supplies in those areas on a pilot basis.

Dr Bhamjee urged anyperson having suicidal thoughts to seek help.