Suicides Risen Since Troubles End

Some chilling new figures have been released today. A survey carried out by the University of Ulster and the Department of Psychiatry at the Mater Hospital found that during the worst years of violence, suicides fell significantly but have now risen in a period of relative peace. Researchers believe civil unrest may have strengthened social bonds within communities, and thus “buffered” suicidal thoughts.

  • Yoda

    Yet another fascinating angle to the fallout of a heavily paramiliatrised society and the ethos and sense of purpose conflict generates.

  • C. William Barnes

    Autism and brain tumors have also dramatically risen during the same period – it is doubtful that peace is driving up brain tumors and rates of autism. Can anyone think of at least one environmental factor that has dramatically changed since the mid to late 90s??

  • Aidan

    I can think of one – Eastenders has been coming on more and more nights a week. That’s got to have an affect.

  • circles

    Quite a few people I know (one a good friend actually) have committed suicide since peace “broke out”, and I hear regularly of really young kids (I mean teenagers) hanging themselves – and this is all only in w. Belfast.
    I don’t think its simply a result of a paramiliatrised society (would maybe go for a brutalised society), but would agree 100% with the idea that somehow there was a sense of purpose for many during the conflict – as twisted as that sounds.

  • Reader

    Maybe an increase in drug consumption has had an impact..

  • circles

    Surely thats just another symptom Reader of something a little deeper thats effed up in our wee wonderland (or maybe even a step towards normalisation – we’re finally getting a drug problem like other medium sized cities, but I think our suicide rate outstrips them.)

  • Foggy

    It could have something to do with the scale of debt people get themselves into nowadays? Credit cards, mortgage repayments, extortionate car insurance premiums etc etc….

    The average salary here for example is a paltry sum in comparison to our mainland counterparts, yet housing prices are on an equal par, we have water rates to look forward to next year along with a Phoenix gas price hike. This all adds up and can cause the average household no end of stress and worry, possibly leading to suicide?

    I could be wrong of course…

  • circles

    Most of the people committing suicide are still in their teens Foggy – no house, no big debts (no prospects perhaps??)
    and I don’t think we’re more indebted than other societies (like the states for example).

    We’re not taking more drugs than anywhere else, don’t watch more TV, don’t live in a more polluted environment (exempting the political environment of course).

  • Headmelter

    Throughout the ‘conflict’ people had something to ‘blame’ their social problems on. The conflict served as something to displace the wider social problems and deprivation on to. Once this has been removed or is in the process of being removed the true depth of deprivation, problems and future outlook is revealed.
    I think it is more about what the future holds. In the ‘ghetto’ areas there is still poor employment prospects, poor housing and an increase in the illicit drug culture.
    Statutory services are ill equipped to deal with the increased demand due to years of under funding and lack of development. Having worked in H&SS in other parts of the UK it is apparent these services are years behind for a number of differnnt reasons all too boring and tedious to list here.

  • Dandyman

    The same thing has been happening in the south throughout the whole ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom, and it’s baffling a lot of professional & armchair sociologists & psychologists. Having lost a close friend to suicide earlier this year I am no wiser than anyone else on the subject but I have to concede it is a mystery how so many people end up taking their own lives apparently ‘out of the blue’.

    I’ve listened to a lot of radio discussions and read many articles on the subject this year about how ‘ironic’ it is that even though on the surface we are all living much better lives in a material sense, the rate of suicide goes up. Then they wheel out the usual suspects who always appear on these talkshows, who prattle on about materialism V spirituality for the allotted 15 minutes of airtime which spearates the adbreaks. And any time people are heard to complain about long commutes, traffic congestion and stress and not being able to spend enough time with their family/friends some dickhead (usually a cabinet member) starts thumping the desk and screaming about “Twinty yearrrs ago in dis counthry we had nathing, and peeple wurr emigraaything in their tens of thousands ivry yeeyur, and we’d no thraffic jams, do-ye-all-want-to-go-back-to-that” etc. But whether people like to admit it or not, life doesn’t automatically become better just because you can afford to live in a big house in a nice area, drive your kids to a good school in a brand new 4X4, watch the soaps on a giant plasma screen TV and take a month off to go live in your holiday home in the Caribbean twice a year. I know that will read like I’m being sarcastic. I’m not. The Irish Republic has a higher rate of suicide than NI..in fact it has the highest suicide rate in the world, if I’m not mistaken. Go figure.

    Most of the people I know who are well off financially are twats. Money DOES change people -at a speed that would frighten you – and not in a good way.

    As for NI, I’d imagine there’s something similar going on. I’m not really qualified to comment on this because I don’t know what it’s like to live/grow up there, but I’d be willing to bet that for all the aspirations and hope that life would get better if the conflict was even brought somewhat under control, they realise it’s not really that much better after all. The more the ‘reasons’ for hating ‘themmuns’ begin to recede or disappear, the more people begin to realise that ‘us’uns & themmuns’ still hate each other anyway just for the sake of it, and it’s the same shithole it always was, just with less frequent newspaper headlines. I shudder when I think what it must be like to face that realisation at a young age, to look around the paramilitary-controlled, mural-soiled, spide-infested dump of a sink estate you live in, & to realise this is going to be your life.

  • Dr. Castleman

    International Suicide Rates per 100,000 are available from the World Health Organization. Keep in mind that the rise is not only in NI, it is throughout the UK during the same time period.
    The suicide rate in the UK overall was 7.5 per 100,000 in 1999, it is now up to 15 per 100,000. NI is currently 26 per 100,000 which is similar to Japan ( a very wealthy country). The US rate is around 12 per 100,000.
    Rates of depression and suicide have risen over the last decade in many countries.

  • martin

    My own opinion is that bullying whether in school,the workplace or at home is a big factor in people taking their own lives.

  • Dr. Castleman

    Martin, your opinion is supported by medical research…interstingly, both the bullied and the bulliers are both at higher risk for suicide and suicide attempts. Carrying excess weight and being bullied about it is also associated with increased thoughts of and suicide attempts.

  • Colm

    While it is inaccurate to generalise about the reasons, and clearly there wouldn’t be one single reason for it, I also think another possible contributory factor to an increase in suicide might well be something that sounds a bit callous but might play a part.

    The peace process and decline in overt ‘spectacular’ conflict may well have taken away a sense of heightened emotion, danger and even dare I say it excitement that living in N.I had. It was a place that was eventful , it wasn’t Belgium if you know what I mean. That edge to the place and anticipation of the next big violent event and how much it might involve you/your family/neighbourhood helped stave off one of what I think is the chief causes of suicide , a hard to pinpoint sense of dullness and pointlessness to life.

    Now that the troubles in the overt sense are fading it is making many young people face up to their individual future in society without having the pyrotechnic background of ‘the troubles’ to shield them from that sense of depressing listlessness and ‘nothing to look forward to’ attitude that blights so many peoples lives.

  • levee

    I saw a piece about this on TV the other night, they were interviewing the guy from the UU.

    Now, I’m not a statistician, but me and Mrs Levee are convinced he was making it up. We took two sets of data from during and after the troubles, added the figures together, multiplied by five, then threw the lot in a blender and allowed it to spray paper mulch across a wall. The resulting data was unequivocal: The suicide rate has increased since the troubles ended.

    Let’s just say he wasn’t too convincing.

  • Valenciano

    “The average salary here for example is a paltry sum in comparison to our mainland counterparts, yet housing prices are on an equal par, we have water rates to look forward to next year along with a Phoenix gas price hike. This all adds up and can cause the average household no end of stress and worry, possibly leading to suicide?”

    That’s so true. I left NI 10 years ago but still come back every Summer to see the family and one thing that hits me is how seriously expensive everything is in NI compared to average wages especially compared to other European countries.

    For example a friend invited me down with her to the Portside Inn for food telling me that we’d get a meal and a bottle of wine “and all for only a tenner!” I told her that I could get a 3 course meal with wine+coffee for 4 quid in Spain. The internet cafe in Shaftesbury Sqwuare charges 4 quid an hour – Spanish ones charge 70p an hour. I know there are higher rental and labour costs here but they are not 6 times as great so why do things often cost 5 or 6 times as much as equivalent sized places in Europe? There’s no excuse other than shameless profiteering but yet people put up with this shit and I don’t know how people keep their heads above water. It does leave people in a cycle of debt and this surely must contribute to depression. Rant over 🙂