A Donegal coroner has criticised the online culture of websites that detail alarming information on self harm and suicide methods, saying “we can no longer bury our heads in the sand” on the issue.
Coroner John Cannon made his remarks at Letterkenny Coroners Court which heard the inquests of three deaths by suicide that occurred just weeks apart last December and January.
He said he has researched this topic recently and his findings made him “so angry” such information was available and in some cases was goading people to harm themselves or die by suicide. He called for such material to be controlled.
“I don’t know the answer but it makes me so angry. I can’t over- emphasise it but it is there.
“It is real and there is no point burying our heads in the sand. There should be controls on these websites,” he stated.
He said these sites targeted people who were “low and in the ebb of depression”.
Mr. Cannon said new findings showed there was a high level of death by suicide in both Donegal and Cork.
The coroner also highlighted his concerns over the growing issue of depression.
He remarked that it crossed many age ranges, adding “horrible episodes of depression” appeared to be “prevalent in young people”.
The inquests heard details of the deaths of two students in their early 20s and a 51-year-old man.
“This depression seems very difficult to understand,” he stated.
A spokesperson for the HSE said people in distress should avoid such websites and be aware that help is available.
Anne Sheridan, Mental Health Promotion Officer, HSE West, if someone is considering suicide, it is important that they talk to someone, talk to a family member, a friend or their GP.
Telling someone how they feel is the first step to getting support and help.
Avoid the internet, especially websites that attract people who are suicidal, as this will only increase vulnerability to suicide.
Anyone who is emotionally distressed can phone Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90 to talk in confidence anytime, day or night.
For more help in preventing any of the issues mentioned visit National Office for Suicide Prevention, Console: www.console.ie, Aware :www.aware.ie. or the Samaritans on Locall:1850 609090 or visit www.samaritans.org
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