A total of 525 people committed suicide in Ireland last year, a seven per cent increase on the year before, according to new figures from the CSO.
Of the 525, 439 were men and 86 were women with the majority being in the 15-44 age group.
The figures show that Ireland has a suicide rate of 11.4 suicides per 100,000. However this nearly doubles for men, with Irish males having a suicide rate of 19.3 deaths per 100,000. Three per cent of all male deaths in 2011 were through suicide. The rate for women is 3.7 suicides per 100,000.
The rate rose from 11 in 2010 to 11.4 in 2011, with the male rate rising from 17.6 to 19.3.
In 2006, the national suicide rate was 10.8 suicides per 100,000
President of the Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS) Dan Neville TD said the figures were “frightening but not surprising” given the impact the economy was having on mental health, especially among young men.
He told the Irish Times: “The recession has had a huge impact on people’s wellbeing. Those who lose their jobs, experience a drastic reduction in their income or are in danger of losing their home experience a lot of anxiety, despair and depression. Relationship difficulties and marriage breakdown can follow on from that.
“We should be identifying and responding to these problems in the community as quickly as possible.”
Mr Neville said the true figure for suicides would be closer to 600 when “undetermined” deaths were taken into account.
The IAS is calling for the urgent appointment of a director of mental health services and a new director of the National Suicide Prevention Office to ensure the €35 million allocated to mental health services is spent responsibly.
Joan Freeman, chief executive and founder of Pieta House, which deals with suicide and self-harm , said the figures showed how big a problem suicide was in Ireland.
“There is no doubt that the demand for our services have increased in the last year. We’re seeing a lot more children, those under 18 and also the 26-44 age group,” she said.
Limerick city has the highest rate of male suicide, with 39.4 suicides per 100,000, with County Offaly a close second at 39 suicides per 100,000.
Westmeath had a suicide rate of 35 per 100,000, while Wexford had a suicide rate of 34.8 per 100,000 and Laois had a suicide rate of 34.5 per 100,000. Monaghan had the lowest rate of male suicide, with 6.6 suicides per 100,000.