Society’s attitude to suicide must change – Neville

Fine Gael Limerick TD and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville, has today (Saturday) said that society’s attitude to suicide must change, and that the stigma that surrounds mental, psychological and emotional ill-health must be removed. Deputy Neville was speaking during an address to a seminar at St. Munchin’s Family Resource Centre in Limerick entitled 'A Community Response to Grief and Loss’.


“There are many misconceptions surrounding incidents of suicide. One of the harshest realities for the bereaved family left behind is the admission that a loved one found life too painful and came to the conclusion that suicide was the only way out. But there should be no denying about the fact of the death. We need to call it what it is; a suicide.        


“It can be of great help to others if the bereaved speak candidly about the death of a loved one by suicide.  I can fully understand the wish to protect a dearly departed family member. But we must educate society about issues surrounding mental, psychological and emotional ill-health. The longer misconceptions about suicide are allowed to persist, the longer we will all struggle to really address the problem.


“People often say when someone dies of cancer or heart disease that they really wanted to live, but their disease got the better of them. And yet they wrongly say that someone who commits suicide wanted to die.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  People who complete suicide want to live as much as anyone else, but living becomes too painful. 


“Those who commit suicide do not want to die, but they just can’t bear to live in the incredible pain that their illness is causing them. It is very important for people to hear that message. Suicide is not a cop out on life.  People who complete suicide have reached the end of their tolerance.


“There is nothing shameful about someone who dies of suicide. They have fought the valiant battle and they have lost the battle to their illness. Society’s attitude to suicide means it is easier to explain death from cancer or a road accident. Suicide is a different type of death, but it does result from an illness and that illness is mental, psychological and emotional.


“Society’s attitude must change. Mental illness is like any other illness. Professional help must be sought at an early stage and the State must provide the services required to help those with this illness to recover.”