Westmeath has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, according to a new report from the National Office for Suicide Prevention
The county had the fourth highest rate of suicide in the country, at 15.1 deaths per 100,000, during the three years 2008-2010, which covers the most recent figures available.
At 17.7 deaths by suicide per 100,000, Offaly has the highest rate of suicide in the country for those three years followed by Kerry, Leitrim, Westmeath and Cork, and the Tipperary North area.
The counties with the lowest rates were Longford, Dublin and Donegal.
The report shows a gradual and constant rise in deaths by suicide in Westmeath from 2005 to 2010 with three-year rolling averages of 2005-2007 (13.7), 2006-2008 (12.3), 2007-2009 (14.6) and 2008-2010 (15.7)
Roscommon recorded one of the lowest rates of death by suicide in the country in recent years, at 11.4 per 100,000 down from 17.7 per 100,000 in the 2005-2007 years.
However, the National Office for Suicide Prevention has urged caution in interpreting these figures on a county basis, due to the impact of small differences in statistics from year to year.
Nationally, the report said that figures for deaths by suicide are below the average for most EU countries, although the figures for young men are particularly high by international comparison.
The report said the figures for 2010, taken together with figures from the National Register of Deliberate Self-Harm, would suggest a stabilisation in the rates of suicidal behaviour.
Support for those affected by mental health issues is available on a 24-hour basis through the Samaritans on 1850-609090.
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