Suicide: A hidden crisis

By Elisa O’Donovan, Limerick Socialist Youth

“Society made me feel like I was scum, that led me to isolation, depression and despair. I nearly lost my life.”

These are the words of Ian Howley, a 20 year old male from Athlone. Ian is not alone in how he feels. In the last three years, two thousand people took their lives. Depression is a major problem amongst young males in this country with Ireland having the third highest suicide rate in Europe.

Day in day out the media tells us that we have never had it so good, gone are the days of poverty and a bleak future, now we are a wealthy country. Yet, evidently many young people are not so optimistic about their futures and face more social problems and pressures than ever before.

We are growing up in an image obsessed society riddled with stress and debt, a society where facilities for young people are virtually non-existent, a society which values golf courses above playgrounds.  Many young people feel they have no control over their lives and futures. People feel their future is not in their hands, but in the hands of examiners, bosses and ‘the jobs market’. Also, despite all the communications technology, many young people feel more isolated than ever as a result of an individualistic culture.

You’d think suicide prevention would be a top priority for the government. You would be wrong. Funding into mental health services is amongst the lowest in the world. Only €1.8 million was allocated to suicide prevention – less than half what was requested. This compares to €20.6 million in Scotland.

With the continued stealth privatisation of the health service one can’t help but feel the situation will only worsen. Again and again this crisis is swept under the rug, but at this year’s SY Summer Festival you can get a chance to discuss how can the crisis be ended.

I will be there. As a student doctor who has lost two friends to suicide, I will always remember how Mary Harney, the HSE and successive governments have done little to tackle this crisis.

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