Ireland has highest suicide rate for young girls, report says

We need to be paying more attention to women’s mental health, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) urges.

Their recent report shows that Ireland has the highest rate for child suicide of girls in Europe.

One of the biggest contributing factors is that women are twice as likely to be affected by depression and anxiety as men.

A tragic trend has developed where women in the poorer parts of Dublin are taking their own lives, matching the same numbers as men for the first time.

The new report Out of Silence: Women’s mental health in their own words is based on conversations with over 100 women from across the country at St. Patrick’s University Hospital.

For the first time, these documents tell the stories of girl’s specific mental health needs and highlight the necessary steps to prioritise prevention and provision of services.

In her interview, one mum said: “Menopause has a very big impact on mental health. Oh my God, the shock of it. You’re told about the sweats but not told about the anxiety.”

While one girl explained the endless cycle of ‘treatment’ in the healthcare system.

“My mam would suffer from depression and instead of talking to her and giving her help, they just kept giving her tablets”, she said.

NWCI’s Women’s Health Coordinator Cliona Loughnane said, “Women’s voices are too often absent from the discussions on mental health in Ireland.  

“Unfortunately, the findings of this project show that there are deficits in mental health provision for women.

"If we want to improve mental health outcomes for women, we must address issues such as women’s shame and guilt when speaking out, the fear of their children being removed when seeking support, depression, low self-esteem and long waiting lists for care.”

Louise O’Leary, the advocacy manager at St Patrick’s also raised alarm surrounding girl’s mental health. She said that the mental health services ratio of female to male admissions is 3:2.

“While women and men experience mental health difficulties to equal degrees, there are important differences as regards needs, experiences and causes or contributory factors,” she explained.

“We need to become more aware and responsive to these differences so that mental health services, and mental health promotion and prevention efforts can be more effective.”

The NWCI’s report aims to bring women’s mental health out of this silence. It highlights women’s direct experiences, how they cope, how they keep themselves well and how they feel they could be better supported by services.

The full report can be read here.