ChildLinks Issue 2: Suicide & Families

Barnardos. (2011). ChildLinks Issue 2: Suicide & Families.
There were over 500 deaths by suicide in Ireland in 2010, almost double that of road accident deaths. Death by suicide is the most common cause of death among young men. Most families have been touched by suicide and the devastation that it wreaks on those left behind. This issue of ChildLinks is focused on the theme of understanding suicide, including its prevalence, its mpact on children and families, different cultural attitudes to suicide and the role of suicide prevention training. Dr Dermot Walsh in his article highlights the link between alcohol consumption and suicide rates in the Irish population and concludes that a recent decline in alcohol consumption would appear to have had some effect in the reduction of suicide rates in 2010. Dr Walsh identifies alcohol consumption in Ireland as the most securely identified influence on suicide rates. Recent research on the prevalence of child and youth suicide in the context of the spectrum of deliberate self harm (DSH) is explored in an article by Dr John Fagan and Professor Fiona McNicholas. The need for understanding of the different cultural attitudes to suicide by different ethnic groups is highlighted by Cairde. The role of Suicide Prevention Training under the co-ordination of the National Office for Suicide Prevention and as implemented by a community organisation in Belfast is also explored. The impact of suicide on children and families is explored by Nicola Mitchell from the Barnardos Bereavement Counselling Service. Approximately one quarter of children seen by the service in 2010 had experienced the death of a close relative, most often the father, as a result of suicide. Research has found that children often witness some aspect of the suicide. It is very important that such children and families are supported to come to terms with what has happened. Many workplaces are now taking steps to put in place suicide policies which encompass prevention and intervention. It is essential that professionals working in social services, including early childhood care and education, are appropriately trained in the skills that will equip them to understand suicide issues and to be alert to the possibility of suicide.