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More have died by suicide than were killed during Troubles

Suicide has increased to alarming levels
Brendan Hughes

MORE people have died by suicide in the past 17 years than were killed during 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, shock figures show.

Statistics also reveal that suicides in Northern Ireland since 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, have been almost double the number of deaths caused by road crashes in the same period.

More than three quarters of those who have died by suicide were men.

During the north's bloody conflict between 1969 and 1997 it is estimated that around 3,600 people were killed.

But the latest official statistics show suicides in the years since have now surpassed this Troubles death toll.

A total of 3,859 deaths due to suicide were registered in Northern Ireland from the beginning of 1998 to the end of 2014.

In the same period 1,961 were killed due to traffic collisions the north's roads.

Suicides were most common among people aged 25-34, making up 22.7 per cent of the deaths. This was followed closely by those aged 35-44 (21.9 per cent), 45-54 (19.2 per cent) and 15-24 (17.5 per cent).

The Belfast area had the most suicides at 843, while the fewest were recorded in the Moyle area at 39.

The latest figures are from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). They show the year suicides were registered rather than the year the tragic deaths occurred.

 

All suspected suicides are referred to a coroner and take time to be investigated, meaning there can be a significant delay between a suicide taking place and it being registered.

For instance of the 313 suicides registered in 2010, only 141 actually occurred in 2010 with the remainder happening in earlier years.

Back in 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, 150 suicides were registered.

The figure has generally increased in the years since, passing the 200 mark for the first time in 2005 and in 2014 it reached 268.

In an attempt to address the north's growing suicide problem, the Programme for Government 2008-11 set a target of an average annual death rate of 10.7 per 100,000 of population for 2010-12.

But the Stormont executive failed to meet this target, according to an analysis in 2014 by news website The Detail.

It found the average annual suicide registration rate per 100,000 of the population in Northern Ireland for 2010-12 was 16 deaths.

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