Irish debate over suicide on death certificates

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New changes to death certificates are being introduced by the Irish government to assist families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

However a Kerry coroner has criticised the move, as he thinks that by leaving a blank space on a death certificate would increase suicide as a taboo topic that would prevent it being spoken about.

Terence Casey, the coroner for South Kerry said: “I have been speaking openly for the last couple of years about suicide, trying to bring it home to people it’s not something to be hidden – it’s to be talked about to try to reduce the number of deaths by suicide. This will totally and absolutely reverse what I have been trying to do.”

The Irish Examiner reports that since Mr Casey has been highlighting suicide awareness the number of deaths by suicide in east and south Kerry have fallen dramatically, to four deaths this year compared to 18 or 19 annual suicides in recent years.

Tanaiste Joan Burton confirmed that new regulations will allow for the cause of death to be omitted from certificates as a new ‘short form’ death certificate is introduced.

The move is to limit the distress caused to families caused by the impact of having the reason for death outlined so overtly.

Ms Burton confirmed the move last week when responding to a question from TD for People Before Profit Richard Boyd Barrett in the Dáil Éireann.

“I hope that this will provide some comfort to families where the details of the cause of death registered are upsetting,” Ms Burton said.
“I will shortly introduce, by regulation, a short form death certificate that will omit the cause of death.”

In Ireland approximately 400 people die from suicide a year, and the country has an exceptionally high rate of suicide in young people, 5.12 per 100,000 people aged below 19. It is the second highest rate across the EU.

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