Research shows over half of suicides involve alcohol
A forum of experts from across different sectors on the island of Ireland are meeting today to shine a light on the relationship between alcohol, self-harm and suicide. At the forum, Ulster University’s Professor Siobhan O’Neill – who is key note speaker at the event – said that research shows that over half of suicides involve alcohol.
The forum – which was opened by the Minister for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, in Chartered Accountants Ireland offices on Dublin’s Pearse Street – was organised by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) on behalf of the North-South Alcohol Policy Advisory Group.
Minister Corcoran Kennedy said: “We know the physical impacts of harmful alcohol consumption. We know that alcohol, like tobacco, causes cancer. We know that alcohol is a psychoactive drug. What this seminar is highlighting, is that the mental health impacts of harmful drinking are equally important and damaging.
“Alcohol is a contributory factor in half of all suicides and the risk of suicide when a person is abusing alcohol is eight times greater than if they were not abusing alcohol. Suicide and deliberate self-harm are complex issues and there are no simple or quick solutions to these problems. We can begin, however, with what we know works. We can target known risk factors like high alcohol consumption.”
IPH’s Director of Policy, Dr Helen McAvoy explained the background to this meeting:
“This is an important time in the evolution of policies relevant to alcohol and to self-harm and suicide in both jurisdictions. New national strategies on drugs and alcohol will be introduced in 2018. In Northern Ireland, a new suicide prevention strategy is under development, with implementation of the 2015 Connecting for Life strategy ongoing in the Republic. Today’s event will provide critical insights to better understand and tackle the harmful effects that alcohol can have on mental wellbeing.”
Professor Siobhan O’Neill, keynote speaker at the forum set out some recent research findings:
“Our research into 1,600 deaths by suicide between 2005-2011 shows alcohol was present in the systems of at least 56% of suicides we studied.”
Recent reports by Registers of Self Harm in Ireland, North and South, indicate that:
- Alcohol was involved in almost half (49%) of the total self-harm presentations to Emergency Departments in NI (NI Registry of Self Harm Three Year Review 2012/13 to 2014/15;
- In 2015 Alcohol was involved in 31% of all cases of self-harm in Republic of Ireland (National Self-Harm Registry Ireland Annual Report 2015).
Dr Helen McAvoy concluded: “Across the island of Ireland the association between alcohol consumption and incidence of self-harm and suicide is a significant public health concern and this event provides an opportunity to share learning for both prevention and support.”
Notes to Editors:
Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH)
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland is an all-island body which supports cooperation on public health North and South to promote collective action for sustained improvements in health with a particular focus on addressing health inequalities.
North South Alcohol Policy Advisory Group
IPH provides support to the North South Alcohol Policy Advisory Group established in 2012 by the Chief Medical Officers in both jurisdictions to facilitate all-island cooperation on policies to reduce alcohol related harm.
Speakers at today’s forum will include:
- Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Ulster University
- Dr Michelle Gilmore, Southern Health and Social Care Trust
- Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE Primary Care Division
- Dr Bobby Smyth, Adolescent Addiction Service, HSE
- Mr Conor McCafferty, Zest NI
For further information, contact:
Pat Montague, Montague Communications
Tel: +353 87-2549123