Troubles affected most prone to suicide

Published Wednesday, 25 July 2012
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The highest rates of suicide are among those who grew up during the Troubles, a new study has revealed.

Troubles affected most prone to suicide
People in Londonderry were found to be most likely to self harm. (© Getty)

The research, conducted by Queen's University, Belfast, found suicide rates in Northern Ireland have doubled since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

It found the majority of deaths are among those who grew up during the worst years of the Troubles, now in the 35-44 age range.

The overall rate of suicide in the region doubled in the decade following the Good Friday agreement, rising from 8.6 per 100,000 of the population in 1998 to 16 per 100,000 by 2010.

It is thought that "mass medication", through anti-depressants, alcohol and illegal drug use, has contributed to the soar in suicide levels.

Professor Mike Tomlinson from the university said suicide prevention strategies in Northern Ireland are failing to combat the rise.

"The increase in suicide rates can be attributed to a complex range of social and psychological factors," he said.

"These include the growth in social isolation, poor mental health arising from the experience of conflict, and the greater political stability of the past decade.

"The transition to peace means that cultures of externalised aggression are no longer socially approved or politically acceptable. Violence and aggression have become more internalised instead," he added.

The most at-risk group is men aged 35-44, while children who grew up between 1969 and 1977-78 - the worst years of the troubles - are the group which now has the highest suicide rates.

"The puzzle is, why have we seen such a dramatic increase in the rate since 1998?" said Professor Tomlinson.

"Those born and growing up in the conflict experienced no other social context until the late 1990s.

There are clear indications from the research that this cohort not only has the highest suicide rate but also the most rapidly increasing rate when compared with other age groups."

The study has also found that people in Londonderry are more likely to self-harm than in other major cities in the UK and Ireland.

Professor Tomlinson's research concluded that NI's suicide prevention strategy is failing to target the vulnerable groups, instead directing resources at younger age groups.

© UTV News
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