Figures provided by the National Office of Suicide Prevention give a clear picture as to the trends in recent years. They show suicide continues to be a particular issue amongst males, and more so in young males. Official figures for the past 30 years (1980-2009) show little change in female suicide rates (fluctuating between around 4 and 5 in every 100,000) while males have increased from 8.4 to 20.0 per 100,000, with a peak of 23.5 in 1998. More recent figures have yet to be confirmed, but indicate this is unchanged. The highest rate within any age group is seen in 20-24 year old men, with 29.3 in every 100,000 recorded in 2009.
To illustrate, imagine Croke Park with a capacity crowd (82,300) representative of the general population. 10 people (8 male and 2 female) from that crowd would complete suicide in the next 12 months. However, if that crowd consisted of only 20-24 year old males, this figure would rise to 24.
When we compare Ireland to the rest of Europe, we see this disparity highlighted all the more. For all suicides Ireland ranks 21 out of 26 countries, with a figure of 10.3 in every 100,000 (with the UK 24 with 7.6 for every 100,000). However, when only looking at the 15-24 year old age range, Ireland jumps to fourth place, with 14.4 in every 100,000 (while the UK is 7.6 in every 100,000). It is a further anomaly that of these 26 countries, Ireland is the only one where the rate of suicide in this age group exceeds the overall average rate across all ages.
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