Sunday, September 20, 2015

Irish Suicide Statistics

There is an interesting article in 20th Sept issue of Irish Daily Mail on Sunday by Alison O'Reilly on the emotional difficulties priests in Ireland have.

The figures given claim priests are at a much greater risk of suicide than the general public

However if looking at who priests are I do not think this is the case. According to the CSO here

"The age-standardised death rate from suicide was 12.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2011" not the 5.12 figure in the article.

Also Males are at a higher risk anyway. "male suicide rates were five times higher at 20.5 deaths per 100,000"

And Older males at a higher risk still. "male suicide rates were highest in the 45-64 age-group (28 per 100,000)". The average age of an Irish priest is around 65.

Just by their gender and age profile priests 35ish to the general population 28 per 100,000 do not seem that different.

Finally priests are unmarried which is a well known correlate of suicide. To take one paper Suicide and marital status in Northern Ireland "Never marrying increased male suicide risk and its effect increased with age IRR among over 55 year-olds = 2.33". 2.33 * 20.5 base =47 per 100k

I had not realised quite how bad it was for those bachelor farmers in terms of suicide. This (greater than 28) rate compares with 1.2 for murder in Ireland.

The story here is not how bad suicide is for priests but how bad the problem is for all single older men in Ireland.

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