October 3, 2008

Publication: Irish Examiner

Date: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 Page: 3

Author: by Jennifer Hough

Headline: Concern over suicides by drowning 

Concern is mounting over the growing numbers of people taking their lives by drowning. Latest figures from Irish Water Safety show 75 people committed suicide by drowning last year, up from 63 in the previous two years. A spokeswoman for the Samaritans said it was very disappointing that despite efforts and collaborations between the Samaritans and Irish Water Safety, increasing numbers are taking their own lives in Irish waters. "It is a cause of concern," she said. "We have worked very hard with Irish Water Safety to ensure black spots are targeted. It's important, because if there is any doubt at all in people's mind, then something like a sticker on a buoy can change someone's mind." She added that men tend to choose mdre violent, or final, means to take their lives.

This was borne out in the Irish ' Water Safety statistics which showed 51 men, compared with 24 women, committed suicide by drowning last year. The age category with the highest numbers taking their own lives, in both men and women, was 45-64, with 22 men in that category taking their own lives and 13 women.  Nine women aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in the water, and eight men in the same age category.

A spokesman for Irish Water Safety, Roger Sweeney, said drowning was perceived as a less painful way to die but this was only a perception. An ongoing project, a collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health Research in UCD and Irish Water Safety, intends to determine the factors and look at preventative measures, he said. Overall last year there were 156 deaths by drowning, 25 more than 2006. "Although there was an increase of 25, there are so many people in Ireland now who are partaking in water-based activities," said Mr Sweeney. He maintains that raising awareness about water safety is of paramount importance especially for younger people. "We have Primary Aquatics Water Safety Schemes in our schools whereby a qualified person visits primary schools and delivers the message directly to the children. "This is very important because the majority of drownings are accidents. "Although we are blessed with an inland water system in Ireland, it is a danger for young people," he said. Mr Sweeney said there had been an increase in the numbers who are wearing life jackets. However, earlier this year, it was revealed that 90% of life jackets sold here are not automatically fitted with such vital