Belfast Telegraph

TD warns over suicide statistics

New figures recording a rise in suicide rates do not show the full scale of the frightening crisis, it has been claimed.

As an official report showed a 7% increase in suicides last year to 525 deaths, a campaigning TD has warned the real number could be closer to 600.

Fine Gael's Dan Neville said the numbers released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) excluded 65 undetermined deaths.

"These would have been recorded as suicide in most other western countries, so add that up and we're talking almost 600 suicide deaths," said Mr Neville.

"That's a very frightening figure."

He said the fact that coroners are reluctant to record a suicide verdict on death certificates was a major problem, including in cases of single vehicle road fatalities when all evidence points to suicide but an open verdict is returned.

Mr Neville, a serving member of the International Association of Suicide Prevention, said he understands that some coroners refuse to record suicide out of sensitivity towards the bereaved.

But he said having hard facts and statistics on the worsening crisis was the only way to tackle it.

"We need to have accurate figures and of course I understand some coroners' sensitivity towards families because it's an extremely traumatic experience for the bereaved, so I wouldn't put labels on them and say they were being irresponsible," said Mr Neville.

"But it is important we have accurate figures and that suicide can be discussed openly."

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