OFFALY: Suicide Reaching ‘Rampant’ Levels In Rular Society: Coroner: UPDATED

25 Jan

A MIDLANDS coroner has warned that suicide is “rampant” in rural society as yesterday alone he heard inquests into the deaths of five people who had taken their own lives.

Of the six inquests Offaly county coroner Dr Brian Mahon heard in Tullamore yesterday, five were the suicides of people — all men — aged between 32 years and 60 years.

He said the incidences of people taking their lives in Ireland was “really serious and rampant” at the moment adding there was evidence of an increase over the last year, particularly in rural areas.

The latest published figures for suicide in this country produced by the Central Statistics Office show that there were 527 cases, up from 424 the previous year.

An additional 195 “deaths by undetermined intent” were recorded by the CSO, a high proportion of which may have been suicide.

More recent figures, albeit provisional, have been published in Clare by the coroner’s office there. They show more than three times the number of people died from taking their own lives last year than from road tragedies.

The provisional statistics point to 15 suspected suicides in the county last year, compared with four road traffic fatalities.

The figure may be even higher for Clare amid concerns over a number of deaths where the cause has not been fully determined.

Yesterday, consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee called for the same energy and funding from Government, aimed at tackling road safety, to be put into lowering the numbers of people taking their own lives.



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THERE is a “conspiracy of silence” among healthcare practitioners and women in general when it comes to mothers who have a mental health problem.

Professor Agnes Higgins, of Trinity College Dublin, said mothers with a mental illness feel isolated and are afraid to talk about the problem for fear their child might be taken away.

She said there was a real need for healthcare practitioners to change the way they think to try and alleviate the pressures on mothers.

Prof Higgins is supervising a pioneering study which will be researched this year and which aims to talk to 40 women around the country in relation to mothering and mental health problems.

Funded by the Health Research Board, Teresa Tuohy is a registered nurse, counsellor and a PhD student at the school of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin, and is looking for women to interview about their experiences as part of the research.

Prof Higgins said the issue was very important and one that had never been looked at in great detail.

“When we look at what is written it is always in a negative tone. What needs to be recognised is the strength and resilience of these woman, and maybe there is another story to be told,” she said.

Prof Higgins said women with mental health difficulties were vulnerable and often felt they were under surveillance rather than supported.

“They often don’t feel they can talk truthfully and honestly about how they are feeling. They feel their child might be in danger of being taken away.”

According to Prof Higgins other pressures are the “expectation of motherhood”.

“The pressure to be this perfect mother is so great and women if they don’t live up to it that they are in some way a bad mother. And women put on this brave mask. If something is wrong they feel they are the only ones, community support is absent.”

A recent TCD study for the National Disability Authority explored the wider experiences of women with disabilities — and to a lesser degree mental health problems — accessing and using the maternity services.

Many women spoke of the lack of knowledge amongst maternity care staff regarding their particular problem and the need for an individual package of care to be developed in partnership early in their pregnancy.

* If you would like to take part in Teresa Tuohy’s research, please contact her on or ring 085 7643439.

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