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Image / Editorial

Ireland has the highest rate of child suicide among girls in Europe


by Erin Lindsay
06th Nov 2018

A new report by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has revealed that Ireland has the highest rate of child suicide of girls in the EU.

The report, entitled Out of Silence, investigated women’s attitudes and experiences of mental health in Ireland, all in their own words. The NWCI spoke to a diverse range of women, including migrant and Traveller women, to collect data, and found some worrying trends concerning the state of women’s mental health in Ireland.

The report found that more women (24%) self-harm than men in Ireland. And that while the rates of men dying from suicide in Ireland is higher than women, more (19%) women attempt suicide than men. Traveller women are dying of suicide at a rate almost five times higher than the rest of the female population. Also, for the first time, women in some of the poorest areas of Dublin are taking their own lives in the same numbers as men. These women are typically in their 20s to 30s, mothers of young children, early school leavers and have often experienced poverty and homelessness.

While it was found that an equal proportion of women and men are admitted to psychiatric units and hospitals in Ireland, more women are admitted for conditions such as depressive disorders (67%) and eating disorders (89%). When it comes to young people’s mental health, more girls are admitted to child and adolescent mental health in-patient units than boys, making up 60% of all under-18 admissions.

The factors that contribute to mental illness, self-harm and suicide attempts are very wide-ranging, however, the NWCI reported on some key elements, including violence and abuse and caring responsibilities, which are mostly handled by women. The report found that a quarter of Irish women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15.

The NWCI found that many women felt that their requests for mental health support were not taken seriously or handled with respect and dignity. The report recommended addressing the issues impacting women’s mental health on a nationwide level, and handling women’s mental health with a much more open and understanding approach. As the report stated:

“There has long been a perception that women are better at dealing with their own mental health, that women don’t bottle up their feelings, that women will seek support. These assumptions are overturned by what women told us about not feeling able to voice their mental health challenges for fear of judgement, or being turned away from over-subscribed services.”

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