Nearly 70% of people know someone who has died by suicide, survey finds

The survey also found 14 per cent of people know someone close to them who has died by suicide.
Nearly 70% of people know someone who has died by suicide, survey finds

Kenneth Fox

Research has found that 67 per cent of people know someone who has died by suicide, according to the Healthy Ireland Survey.

The research also found 14 per cent of people know someone close to them who has died by suicide.

The annual survey is conducted by Ipsos MRBI using a representative sample of the population aged 15 and older living in Ireland, with the sample size typically in the region of over 7,500 people.

The survey found those aged 45-64 are most likely to know someone who has died by suicide - 76 per cent of those aged 45-54 and 77 per cent of those aged 55-64 - compared with 58 per cent of people aged under 25 and 61 per cent of those aged 25-34.

Just over a quarter (26 per cent) said the person they know who most recently died by suicide was a friend, 25 per cent identified them as an acquaintance and 23 per cent said they were an extended family member.

A total of 4 per cent said the person was an immediate family member.

Approximately 8 per cent of those who knew someone who died by suicide reported the death had a significant or devastating effect on them which they still feel.

In addition, 6 per cent of respondents said they attempted to take their own life at some point in the past, with 10 per cent of those aged under 35 reporting an attempt to take their own life compared to less than 1 per cent of those aged 65 or older.

The survey found 15 per cent of those describing their general health as fair or bad and 9 per cent of those with a long-standing illness or health problem reported attempting to take their own life.

General health

In terms overall health, 82 per cent of respondents perceived their health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, compared to 3 per cent who perceived their health as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.

Just over one quarter (28 per cent) of respondents said they have a long-term illness or chronic condition which has lasted 6 months or more.

The most commonly diagnosed conditions are high blood pressure (6 per cent), arthritis (5 per cent), asthma (4 per cent), diabetes (4 per cent) and high cholesterol (3 per cent).

Just under one fifth (18 per cent) of the population are current smokers, with 14 per cent smoking daily and 4 per cent smoking occasionally. Those aged 25-34 are most likely to smoke, as was the case in all survey waves between 2015 and 2019.

Men are more likely than women to smoke across all age groups with the differential being widest among those aged 25-34. Just over a third (34 per cent) of men and 14 per cent of women in this age group are smokers.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of men in the 25-34 age group are daily smokers, compared with 10 per cent of women of the same age. The equivalent proportions in the 2021 survey were 20 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.

Almost half of all those who smoked in the last 12 months have attempted to quit, and 23 per cent of those who attempted to quit in the last 12 months were successful.

Alcohol consumption

Two thirds of people had consumed alcohol in the previous 6 months, the research found, an increase of 1 per cent since 2021. Those aged 15-34 were most likely to have consumed alcohol in the last six months.

Gender differences in alcohol consumption were small, with men (69 per cent) slightly more likely than women (65 per cent) to have consumed alcohol in the preceding six months.

Roughly half (52 per cent) who had consumed alcohol in the previous 6 months reported they normally drink at least once a week, with a further 32 per cent drinking multiple times a week.

Men were also found to drink alcohol more frequently than women, as 36 per cent of males drink alcohol more than once a week, compared to 27 per cent of female drinkers. These figures are broadly unchanged since 2021.

However, there has been a decline in drinking frequency among 35 to 44-year-olds, with 51 per cent of drinkers in this age group drink at least once a week, with 26 per cent doing so multiple times a week. This compares with 60 per cent and 36 per cent respectively in 2021.

One third of those who consumed alcohol in the previous 6 months are considered binge drinkers, higher than that of 2021 (22 per cent) but still behind 2018 levels (37 per cent).

This means 22 per cent of the population (aged over 15) are categorised as binge drinkers, compared with 20 per cent in 2021, and 28 per cent in 2018.


If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org. 

Alternatively, the contact information for a range of mental health supports is available at mentalhealthireland.ie/get-support. 

In the case of an emergency, or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112. 

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