‘Suicide Tragedies Raise Many Questions’

Recent suicide tragedies in Ireland raise many questions about issues related to suicide prevention and the promotion of positive mental health, according to the Irish Association of Suicidology.

The Association was commenting following the tragic incident in Cork at the weekend, in which a mother and her nine-month-old son were found drowned in a river in North Cork. Gardai are not treating the deaths as suspicious and no-one else is being sought in connection with the deaths. It says murder suicide, including suicide filicide, that is the murder of a child by a partner who subsequently takes their own life, is rare, although more common than one might think and always a matter of great concern.

The Association says there have been six such tragic events in Ireland in the past 18 months. Factors involved in leading to these deaths can include post-partum depression, perinatal psychoses, major depressive illness, other major psychiatric illness, relationship problems isolation and loneliness, the Association said.

“Some of these tragic events are probably not preventable. They do, however, raise many questions about issues related to suicide, suicide prevention and the promotion of positive mental health.” It says there is a lack of specialist psychiatric services for women during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth, and a lack of proper assessment to children during this period.

The Association adds that to many, the psychiatric services are remote, not user-friendly and not always readily accessible, with the provision of psychiatric and counselling services unevenly spread across the country. “There is a need for greater funding of all of these services and for the voluntary organisations that are making such valuable contributions to all aspects of suicide prevention and support for the bereaved at both national and local levels.”

The Association says that while much of the media reporting on suicide filicide has been mature and reflective, some has been appalling, and has broken all the internationally-agreed guidelines for the portrayal and reporting of suicide in the media, including those published by the Association and the Samaritans.

“Shock, horror, over-dramatic simplistic repetitive reporting may frequently lead to copycat suicide and this is also true of murder suicide and suicide filicide”, the Association says.

However, responsible reporting of suicide may prevent copycat suicide, it points out.