10 people took their own lives in Donegal last year - ‘more go unreported’, activist

A total of ten people took their lives in Donegal last year, the vast majority of whom were men.

A total of ten people took their lives in Donegal last year, the vast majority of whom were men.

The Central Statistics Office released a new report this week, which reveals that eight men and two women died at their own hands in the county in 2011. This is very much in line with figures from across the country, which show a total of 525 deaths by suicide, 439 among males and 86 among females.

In terms of the suicide rate per 100,000 population, the rate for Donegal is 6.2, well down from the 2010 figure of 9 and the 2006 figure of 9.5. The rate is also well below the national average of 11.4 and the rate for Sligo/Leitrim, which at 15, is considerably higher than the national average.

One statistic to emerge from the report is that the rate of male suicide per 100,000 people has fallen from 18.1 in 2010 to 9.9 last year.

However, a Donegal mother who lost her son to suicide believes that low figure is due to under reporting.

Molly Reynolds of Creevy is one of the co-founders of STOP (Suicide, Teach, Organise, Prevent). Her son Mark took his own life three years ago, at the age of 38, on July 5.

Had he lived, he would have been celebrating his birthday today.

“The low figures are misleading - they are just the tip of the iceberg because so many suicides are unreported.

“Even Mark’s death was not recorded as suicide. Because of the amount of alcohol in his system combined with the fact that he had a very high level of arterial sclerosis for someone his age, the coroner said he would not have had the rational ability to commit suicide.

“From my experience and from what I am hearing, this is a far from unusual case.

“I’ve been told of at least five people having taken their own lives in recent months in this small corner of Donegal. If you go back a wee bit further, the number is eight.

Read more in today’s Donegal Democrat