January 19, 2015

Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin was speaking after he conducted inquests into the deaths of seven people in one court sitting who took their own lives

First published: Irish Mirror, 18-Jan-2015

The rate of suicide in Ireland has reached alarming levels, a coroner has warned.

West Galway Coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin conducted inquests into the deaths of seven people in one court sitting who took their own lives.

Mr MacLoughlin confirmed the inquests had not been specially scheduled together because of the nature of the deaths.

“Seven deaths, all bunched together. It is very alarming…it is a terrible tragedy that has hit the county and the country”, Dr MacLoughlin said.

He noted that of the nine inquests listed in Galway in one day last week, seven were deaths that were self-inflicted.

In one other case, a Connemara man with a drink problem died after drinking a toxic amount of alcohol.

The suicide victims were aged between 20 and 44 and six of the seven were men, Dr MacLoughlin was told.

Among the victims were:

– A 20-year-old metal worker who had been out late with his friends on May 17 last. They had noticed nothing different about him, but his father discovered his body the following morning when he went to his shed at the rear of the family home in Moycullen;

-A 20-year-old Connemara man whose body was found at a local pier. He had simply walked out of the family home after 8pm on July 21 last and two women visiting the area made the shocking discovery while out strolling the following morning;

– A 26-year-old man from Castlebar who took a taxi to Galway city and went to the promenade at Salthill on May 26 last year. He phoned his brother to tell him he was sorry, but he could take no more. His body was found floating in the water the following morning;

– A 28-year-old part-time student suffering from a mental illness who took his life at the family home in Galway city on June 11, 2014. His mother raised serious questions about the care he had received at the psychiatric unit of Galway University Hospital and the manner in which his family were treated. The family of four had been told at the unit “to go up town for a cup of tea at 11 o’clock at night”, the upset mother said.

– A 34-year-old Belfast man suffering from acute paranoia who burned to death after pouring petrol over himself at a retreat centre in Co Sligo on September 13 last. His mother said that the family had been “tormented” by his paranoid delusions;

– A 36–year-old wife and mother of a two-year-old child. Her husband made the shocking discovery of her body at the family home in south Galway when he returned home at midday on July 30 last. The child was playing in a room, while his mother was dead in the hallway. She had apparently recovered from post-natal depression and had been seen by a doctor at a mental health centre the day before she died;

– A 44-year old married man whose body was found by his wife when she returned home to Moycullen on the night of May 19 last. He had been “a bit off form” in the days leading up to his death, but had not discussed feeling low with his GP despite his wife’s urging.

Dr MacLoughlin individually told the families of all seven that they were not alone and that there were many families like them who were similarly suffering.

“We feel for all of these people who are tragically and unexpectedly left behind…I see there are recommendations coming from Europe about picking up the early warning signs.

“Knowledge of this should be made available in schools and elsewhere — if people are able to articulate their feelings, then maybe the incidence of this may be less”, he said.

If you are affected by this article, please call the Samaritans on 116 123.