Good morning, welcome to Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland
People who die by suicide are often having intense feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and may not see any other way out of their emotional pain. It is important to remember that most people who attempt suicide do not really want to die. They simply want to end the pain they are experiencing.
The suicide attempt is quite often a conscious or unconscious method for getting others to recognise just how badly the individual is feeling. Yes, suicide attempts are very often cries for help.
If someone in a family has completed suicide, other family members may be tempted because suicidal behaviour has been "modelled' for them. However, suicide behaviours are not inherited in families.
Anyone who attempts suicide in order to get attention desperately needs it. It is tragic when someone feels they need to bargain with their life in order to have their problems taken seriously. Any suicide attempt needs to be taken seriously.
One of the important warning signs for suicide is a prior attempt. Anyone who attempts suicide once is more likely to try suicide again than those who have never attempted. However, many people who receive licensed professional medical and behavioural health care following a suicide attempt may never become suicidal again.
Many people who attempt suicide are ambivalent about life. They want to live and die at the same time. But, as noted in number 1, it is not that the person really wants to die, but rather that death may seem like the only way to end the emotional pain the suicidal person may be feeling. It is the pain they want to end usually, not the life.
While it is true that suicidal feelings often develop in a person who is deeply depressed, the fact that one is depressed does not mean that a person will become suicidal.
A person at a particular moment may find the emotional pain being experienced absolutely intolerable. At a given moment, a suicide attempt might impulsively be made which, in retrospect, might be regretted.
Taking drugs or alcohol in excess can exaggerate painful feelings to a point where the feelings become intolerable. In such a state, a person might attempt suicide who otherwise would not go that far.
All suicidal individuals are not necessarily mentally ill, though many people who attempt or complete suicide may have symptoms of mental illness, the most common being some form of depression. It is important to note that most depression is of a temporary nature and is treatable.
Studies in the US indicate that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth account for some 30% of all youth suicides, yet constitute only about 10% of the total youth population. Thus, it is clear that such youth are at much higher risk for suicide than the youth population as a whole.
A person who feels that life is too painful is often feeling very worthless, perhaps unloved, perhaps isolated Showing such individuals some real caring, by listening to them, accepting their feelings without judgment, by staying close, and getting others to be supportive, can really help. Giving time and really listening to someone in crisis is critical. It may be important to refer the person to a professional medical or mental health worker at some point.
Talking about suicide diffuses some of the intensity of suicidal feelings. It helps the person get connected to the help that may be needed. It creates a climate of caring and helps to break through the loneliness and isolation a person may be experiencing. By asking someone in crisis if they are suicidal, we give that person permission to talk about possible suicidal feelings, about which they may otherwise feel they cannot, or should not, talk about.
At one time suicide or attempted suicide was against the law. In some countries it has only been within the last 20 years that suicide has ceased to be a crime.
The survivors of a suicide are left with complex and often confusing feelings of rage, guilt, despair, grief, loss, shame, etc. Recovery from the loss of a loved one by suicide is a very difficult form of grief to resolve, and may never be completely resolved. It has been estimated that every suicide, on average, has a direct, profound emotional impact on 8 to 12 other people. With some 30,000 suicides each year in the EU, there are consequently a huge number of emotionally impacted "suicide survivors".
Some people keep the fact of suicide in the family a secret out of fear of being blamed or socially ostracized. Fortunately today, much of the historical stigma of suicide is lifting and people are dealing with suicidal death more directly and honestly.
Lethal methods for attempting suicide by teenagers include guns, hanging, carbon monoxide, jumping, and drug overdoses. Auto accidents account for many deaths, but it is often difficult to determine whether the death is suicide or an accident.
Although about three times as many women attempt suicide than do men, about four times as many men complete suicide than do women. This is due to the fact that men use more lethal methods, such as guns or hanging, while women are more likely to attempt suicide by using pills.
At some point in their lives, most people have at least fleeting thoughts of suicide, especially in times of personal crisis but it does not mean a person will die by suicide.

YES, we are regulated by the Revenue Commissioners who decide annually whether we are acting charitably and meeting the requirements set out in our founding consitution.  Our Revenue Charities number is CHY18438 and can be checked at

YES, we are registered on the National Register of Charities which is maintained by the Charity Regulatory Authority.  Our Register entry can be checked at

YSPI is run by our Board of Trustees.  There are currently four Trustees:

Nelius Enright, Kerry

Yvonne Higgins, Cork

Alan Redmond, Cavan

Marje Farrell, Kerry

The Trustees are responsonsible for setting charity policy and ensuring that YSPI complies with all its legal and statutory obligations. 

The Trustees are also responsible for ensuring that the charity's finances are being handled properly at all times. 

We have a Board of Management that makes the day to day decisions about running the charity.  The Board is made up of the Chief Executive, the Administrator, the Secretary of the Trustees and 2 volunteer staffers.

Our office is administered by our Administrator, Alan, who has 2 or 3 volunteers to assist with with accounts, scheduling school visits, telephone answering etc.

We do not pay any of our staff to administer the charity.

NO, our constitution specifically prohibits any Trustee from profiting personally from their position.  Our Trustees are all volunteers and they receive no salary or compensation of any kind for their time and service.

YES,  our Trustees are entirely independent, they are not related to each other in any way.  Our Trustees do not have charity credit cards or any kind of direct access to charity funds but they have total access 24/7 to the charity's financial records and books so they can assure themselves that your donations are being spent properly.

The Trustees have total access 24/7 to the charity's financial records and books so they can assure themselves that your donations are being spent properly.The Trustees also pay for a certified accountant to keep our accounts, and separate independent auditors to check our accounts are complete and accurate.

NO, The charity does not own or lease any property or motor vehicles.  The charity has no mortgages, leases or outstanding debts of any kind. We keep cash reserves of 10% of annual income in case of emergencies.

The charity has only two staff, both are trained facilitators who provide the National School Visits Programme around the country. They get paid around €25,000 per year each.

As of October 2015 our Administration Overhead, the amount it costs to run the Charity, is around 11% of income.  So for every €1 we receive just 11c is used to run the charity.

We don’t know for sure, because when young people die by suicide they take the answers with them. But young people who attempt suicide and survive tell us that they wanted to die to end the pain of living.

They are often experiencing a number of stressors and feel that they do not have the strength or desire to continue living. It is possible that the majority of young people who die by suicide have a mental disorder, like depression, which is often undiagnosed, untreated, or both.

Some estimate as many as 80% of those thinking about suicide want others to be aware of their emotional pain and stop them from dying.

A warning sign does not automatically mean a person is going to attempt suicide, but it should be taken seriously.

Warning signs to pay particular attention to are:

prior suicide attempts

talking about suicide and making a plan

giving away prized possessions

preoccupation with death

signs of depression, hopelessness and anxiety

increased drug and alcohol use

Not enough, but more are learning every day.

Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland is developing a number of websites and online resources to provid information to healthcare professionals, parents, teachers, clergy and especially young people.

We believe that primary and secondary school students and college students can and should learn the warning signs and intervention strategies to help their friends so that they feel able to befriend a person at risk of suicide and offer comfort and support as well as knowing when to seek help. It is always better to seek help in error, it's much better to feel foolish than feel guilty.

Yes, there are some groups who are particularly vulnerable.

Young people with exisiting mental health problems such as depression, especially when undiagnosed, are at higher risk of suicide.

New research is showing that some abuse victims are also at high risk of suicide.

Some reports also suggest that gay and lesbian young people are two to three times more likely to complete suicide than other young people as they generally face more prejudice and harrassment in their daily lives.

Alcohol and substance abuse can also place young people at higher risk of suicide.

In Ireland males are much more likely to die by suicide, while females are more likely to make suicide attempts that result in hospitalisation.

Hanging and abusing prescription medication are the most frequently used methods for youth suicide.

Cutting and overdose are the most frequency used methods for suicide attempts that result in hospitalisation.

There are three very important things to do if you notice the warning signs for suicide or the young person tells you directly that they are thinking about suicide.

1.  The first thing is to always show the person that you are concerned about them – listen without judgment, ask about their feelings and avoid trying to come up with a solution to their problem.

2.  Next ask directly about suicide – be direct without being confrontational; say "Are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?"

3. Finally, if the answer to your question is "yes" or you think it is yes, go get help – call a crisis line, talk with your teacher, tell a parent or refer the teen to someone with professional skills to provide help.

Never keep talk of suicide a secret!

Suicide rates in Ireland have actually been going down since 1990. There was a significant increase in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but the trend until recently has been downward.

Since the beginning of the economic crisis the trend in suicide related deaths seems to be moving upwards again especially amongst young males.  The most common factors seem to be related to poverty, unemployment, financial pressures and fear of failure or fear of the future.

There may also be a perception that the suicide rate is increasing more rapidly than it actually is.  This may because you are reading and hearing more about suicide. Media reports, hopefully, are making people more aware of the warning signs and the resources for help.

There are a number of common myths about suicide.

Some believe if you ask directly about suicide that you “plant” an idea in the brain of a young person; this is just not true.

There is a belief that saying the 'S' word, suicide, will bring it to your own door; this is a superstition and is not true.

Others think that young people who talk about suicide are not really serious about dying – they think they are just seeking attention. This is also not true.

The common theme here is that people are reluctant to talk about suicide and the issues surrounding it for social, religious or other reasons.  This fear of discussing suicide can be transmitted to young people and make them more relucatant to reach out and listen to their friends.  Discusson of suicide should be encouraged so that everyone knows the warnings signs and feels able to talk to someone that they feel might be at risk.

Most feel a combination of emotions: anger, sadness, guilt, shame and fear. They wonder what they could have done and why they didn’t do more.

Suicide is different from other kinds of sudden death because the reason for the death is difficult to understand. With a car accident there is an external explanation or cause – an icy road, loss of vehicle control, etc. With a murder, the grief-stricken can point to a perpetrator. With suicide, we don’t have an external cause, and so we ask ourselves over and over: 'why?'

There are a number of specialist grief counselling services available to help deal with the grieving process after a death by suicide.


It is vital and necessary for all who are grieving to remember the person who has died by suicide with love and affection, bringing the good times to mind and not dwelling on what might have been or feelings of failure.

After a suicide there is a very real feeling that the person's life has been wasted in some way and that there should be a tribute or memorial to commemorate the life of the person who died by suicide.

Sometimes these memorials just keep the death 'alive' and serve as a grim reminder of the loss. There is also a very real concern about suicide contagion within the community so there is a delicate balance between commemorating the life of the person who died by suicide and glamourising a suicide and possibly helping to create a suicide outbreak or 'hotspot'.

Probably the most important thing that any of us can do is to be aware of the suicide warnings signs and to listen to those around us.

We all need to be active listeners, actually hearing what our friends and family may say to us rather than just in one ear and out the other. Take time to register the conversation, look for unusual body language, recognise signs of unusual behaviour.  In short, we ned to be less about ourselves and more about those around us. 

We also need to overcome our own embarrasement about facing other people's emotions.  In general males are particularly reluctant to hear about emotions especially from male friends or family, but this is something we all need to challenge in ourselves.  Letting friends and family 'vent' can be very important but always, if the issues raised in this 'venting' causes you concern, seek advice from a helpline or a medical / mental health professional.

We also need to get involved and not expect other people to carry the load.  The old saying about vicars being "all tea and sympathy" is not a bad way to help a friend through a bad patch and could make all the difference between a crisis and a tragedy.

Non-fatal intentional behavior that results in actual tissue damage, illness or risk of death.

Self-harm is correlated with the following behaviors and symptoms but is NOT caused by these:

  • depression
  • loneliness/isolation
  • hopelessness
  • perfectionism
  • impulsivity
  • impaired family communication
  • anxiety
  • self-blaming
  • low self-esteem
  • hypercritical parents
  • awareness of self-harm by peers

Reasons vary, but tend to fall into one of these categories:

  • to stop bad feelings
  • to feel something
  • to avoid doing something unpleasant
  • to get a reaction

Typically teens who self-harm are trying to feel better, while a teen who attempts suicide is trying to end all feelings, BUT... the intent of the behaviour can vary and needs to be assessed. Self-harm can be a risk factor for suicide; the higher the frequency of self-harm, the greater the risk for suicide.

  • Don't react with criticism or horror
  • Remain non-judgmental; let the teen know that you care
  • Understand that the behavior is a coping mechanism
  • Validate the emotion that triggered the behavior, not the behavior
  • Get professional help that will provide the teen greater insight into their emotional states and replace the self-harming behavior with effective coping skills (see below, questions for interviewing and selecting a therapist)
  • Have you previously treated children and/or adolescents who were cutting or intentionally hurting themselves?
  • If so, what is your theoretical orientation to treating this behaviour?
  • How do you involve parents/guardians in the treatment?
  • How do you balance confidentiality between the patient and the parent?
  • Do you tend to recommend medication for the teens that you are treating for self-harm?

Whatever their theoretical approach, the therapist should be able to explain it to you in a specific, understandable fashion. Preferably their approach is focused less on understanding why your child is engaged in self-harming behavior and more on teaching and reinforcing coping skills.

If the therapy is not making sense to you or if you feel that your child is not making adequate progress, talk with the therapist. Be an advocate for your child and consider interviewing and selecting another therapist. The first therapist may not be a “match” with your child.

A female with romantic, emotional, and sexual attraction to females

A male with romantic, emotional, and sexual attraction to males; also used as an 'umbrella' term

Someone with romantic, emotional, and sexual attraction to both males and females

An 'umbrella' term to describe different types of gender identity - one’s sense that they are outside the boundaries of biological sex and don’t necessarily conform to societal gender norms usually associated with male and female; includes people who are homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual

Any person who is questioning their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity

Ally -
A non-LGBTQ identified person who actively supports the rights of LGBTQ people and works to reduce heterosexism and transgender discrimination

Gender Identity -
One’s sense of self as male or female, or somewhere between or outside traditional gender roles

Heterosexism -
Bias against non-heterosexuals, based on the belief that everyone is or should be heterosexual or that homosexuality is abnormal or wrong

Homosexuality -
Romantic, emotional, and sexual attraction to members of the same sex

Sexual Orientation -
A person’s romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction towards males, females, or both

Homophobia -
Fear of or contempt for LGBTQ individuals

Coming Out (of the closet) -
Voluntary announcement of one's (primarily homosexual or bisexual) sexual orientation or gender identity - this happens at different times throughout one’s life and can be a continuous experience

Outed (from the closet) -
Involuntary announcement of one's (primarily homosexual or bisexual) sexual orientation or gender identity - this can happen by accident, for personal or political motives or by malicious intent.

LGBTQ youth may also be at an increased risk for suicide ideation and/or attempts due to an increased occurrence of risk factors that occur in their “straight” peer’s lives and additional factors such as: gender nonconformity, coming out: early or not coming out to anyone, homophobia/transphobia, internalized homophobia/transphobiainternal conflict, heterosexism, inaccessible GLBTQ friendly service providers.

Yes; being a victim, perpetrator or even a witness to bullying has been associated with multiple behavioral, emotional, and social problems, including an increased risk for suicidal ideation.

The signs are the same, but statistics show that the risk is higher so we must be aware of that risk. They key is that LGBTQ youth have proven quite resilient and not all of them suffer from severe depression and/or suicidal ideation. The risk is there, though, just as in any youth

Studies have shown that the highest risk for LGBTQ youth is when they come out at an early age-this may be due to homophobia and negative coming out experiences.

Additionally, when they don’t come out to anyone at all. This may cause internalized homophobia/transphobia, fear of rejection, and low self esteem.

Statistics from multiple studies show that 4.5% of youth identify as GLBT in secondary school and an additional 4.5% identify as Questioning. So, we’re looking at about 9% (this number may be low due to issues with self reporting).

Other studies have shown that 20-40% of LGBTQ youth report having suicidal thoughts (average of 45%) and/or attempts (average of 35%).


  • Safe schools are an important protective factor for GLBTQ youth

  • GLBTQ students are sometimes victimized and often staff do not intervene

  • Strategies: Train staff, and students, establish clear school policies, hire GLBTQ staff and include GLBTQ curricular content.

  • Teachers: identify self as Ally or as LGBTQ


Mental Health & Social Services:

  • Many providers lack knowledge, are unaware of heterosexism, and are demeaning to GLBTQ clients

  • Low provider awareness of transgender issues

  • GLBTQ youth with negative provider experiences may feel discouraged from further help-seeking and disclosure

  • Important to include family if they are safe

  • Strategies: Play advocacy role, train staff, provide confidentiality safeguards, and establish service space that reflects support and inclusion


Social Work:

  • Develop GLBTQ knowledge and provide accurate education information;

  • Assess the degree of GLBTQ identity development;

  • Assess for safety, keeping in mind GLBTQ risk for suicide and risk factors;

  • Keep in mind the diversity across and within sexual minority groups;

  • Assess and respect youth’s decision about disclosing to others; and

  • Advocate, including developing GLBTQ-inclusive programs such as support groups, educational programs for youth and their families, and especially more supportive schools.


Healthcare Providers:

  • Health providers lack training in adolescent development, sexual orientation, and gender identity

  • Many youth seek help for emotional problems from their GP

  • Some GLBTQ report hostility and disgust from providers. Some GLBTQ refuse to get care based on negative experiences.

  • Primary care access is an issue for youth generally

  • Strategies: Provide accurate information on sex and gender for patients, create a welcoming office, review intake forms for GLBTQ inclusion.



  • Unconditional acceptance of your child’s identity and identity of all youth

  • Educate yourself and family members about GLBTQ issues

  • Attend support group meetings for parents & families of lesbians and gays

  • Ensure that your child’s schools is safe and welcoming

  • Maintain confidentiality - let the child decide when and to whom they will “come out”

Warning Signs

Warning signs may include but are not limited to:
Withdrawing from family and friends
Having difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly
Sleeping too much or too little
Feeling tired most of the time
Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight
Talking about feeling hopeless or guilty
Talking about suicide or death
Self-destructive behaviour like drinking too much or abusing drugs
Losing interest in favourite things or activities
Giving away prized possessions
Mood swings
If a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. If they have expressed an immediate plan, or have access to prescription medication or other potentially deadly means, do not leave them alone. Get help immediately.


The Samaritans116 123
Pieta House1800 247 247
Aware1890 30 33 02
ISPCC Childline1800 66 66 66
Teen-Line Ireland1800 83 36 34

Contact Us

Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland (RCN20070670)
59 High Street
Co Kerry V93 N977
Tel 021 - 242 7173