December 19, 2011

  Loneliness a factor in many rural suicides


                            by Donal Hickey and Anne Lucey

A CORONER has blamed "pure loneliness" as a contributory factor to a high incident rate of suicides in a rural region.

South Kerry coroner Terence Casey yesterday described as "crazy" the number of people taking their own lives in his area.

He warned the incidence rate was near "crisis stage".

His comments came as a former nurse Deirdre Lee, now a business woman in Killarney, plans a public meeting next week to help combat the disease.

She wants health profes- sionals and the public to dis- cuss an integrated approach to preventing suicides.

"The primary aim is for us all to get an understand- ing of what services are out there and perhaps identify the gaps that need to be rilled," she said. "It would be very heartening to have representation from interested people from every area in Kerry to allow every community to benefit from what we hope will be a very informative meeting." The meeting is to be held in the Killarney Sports and Leisure centre on Tuesday next at 8pm.

Meanwhile, Mr Casey — coroner for Killarney, Ca- hersiveen and Ring of Kerry — said there had been 13 suicides so far in his area this year. Inquests had been held into most, he said.

Road accident deaths in the same area totalledthree this year.

Mr Casey said the suicideswere across all age groups,but mainly in older agegroups. Four were people over 60 and three were inthe 41-50 age group.

One recent inquest wasinto the death of an 85-year-old.

The incidence of suicidenow in Kerry was "crazy"and it was getting to crisisstage, he said. "I believe thisis pure loneliness." People in rural Ireland, headded, were becomingisolated and there seemedto be no solution to theisolation with difficultiesgetting to the pub, the postoffice and other amenities.

The public meeting, AnIntegrated Approach to Ker-ry's Fight Against Suicide, isopen to all voluntary groupsand professionals working inthis area and to those willingto make a commitment tothe fight against suicide.

Ms Lee hopes the meetingwould help to avoid duplicating services and to enablethe voluntary organisationsto maximise their resources.

Details of the five-weekeducational programme,Peer Support Training, willbe given at the meeting.

The educational programmewill be sponsored by BeAware: Prevent Suicide andthe first 14 places will beavailable to volunteers whowill train as peer supporttraining facilitators.

They will then roll outthe peer support trainingto schools, companies,clubs, volunteer groups andwherever demand arises.