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No increase in Mayo suicide rate during pandemic – Coroner

News

ALLAYED FEARS Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor.

Mayo numbers have stabilised or lessened during 2020

Anton McNulty

THE number of deaths from suicides has not increased in the county since the implementation of Covid-19 restrictions, according to the Coroner for Mayo.
There had been fears that the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed could have a negative impact on people’s mental health and lead to an increase in the suicide and self-harm rates in the country.
Speaking after the inquests of two Mayo men who died as a result of suicide in June and August, Mr Patrick O’Connor said the media had been asking him in recent weeks whether there has been an increase in suicide rates in the last nine months, and it was his opinion that there has not been.
“The number of persons who have died from suicide in Co Mayo has not increased, and if anything it has stabilised or is less in 2020,” he said.
“Whether there are issues in relation to Covid regarding people’s mental health that is another matter but certainly it has not reflected itself thankfully in persons who have died from suicide, in my opinion, in my district in Co Mayo,” he said.
The inquests, which were held in Ballina Courthouse, were the final inquests to take place in 2020, and Mr O’Connor thanked the Gardaí and the Court Service for their help in a particularly difficult year.
The inquests normally take place in Castlebar Courthouse but were moved to Ballina when the courthouse in Castlebar became unavailable after the Central Criminal Court relocated there in October.
Mr O’Connor thanked the court service for making Ballina available and ensuring inquests were able to be held.
“I wish to commend the public services and in particular the court services for providing the facilities to hold inquests. It is a relief to all and in particular the families, who want to get on with the process, which is extremely difficult for them,” he said.
Following the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in the spring, the holding of inquests was not possible until late in the summer. Despite this, Mr O’Connor said that thanks to the efficiency of the gardaí and court service, all the files are up to date and there are no back-logs to deal with.
Mr O’Connor also reiterated the need for communities to look out for vulnerable members of society at this time of year and to be mindful of people who are struggling in the current climate.