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Suicide rates in Northern Ireland have doubled since the signing of the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998, new research has revealed. Queen’s University in Belfast found suicide levels have soared since the end of the Troubles, though the deaths are occurring among those who grew up during the worst years of violence. Social upheaval was said to have caused “mass medication” through anti-depressants, alcohol and illegal drug use, while aggression that was once widespread in the divided society has become more internalised.

Now suicide is a serious business and I wonder what has caused this increase post the Belfast Agreement? A lot of young men seem to kill themselves but I am very unsure that there can be a causal link. I grew up through the worst of the terrorism and I can’t see how people would feel any worse post the BA, UNLESS of course the sheer immorality of it has impacted them. But I don’t really think that is the case. It may well be that we would have seen this increase in suicided anyway and the timeline picked for analysis is purely coincidental? Like a lot of academic research, it should be treated with great concern.

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15 thoughts on “THE PRICE OF PEACE IS DEATH?

  1. It’s boredom that is the cause of the rise in suicides. During upheavals and crisis of almost any kind people feel a sense of belonging and purpose, however traumatic . Once the ‘excitement’ is over, the dullness of routine living foments individualism and loneliness.

  2. Colm,

    Somewhere,somehow, and no doubt unintentionally, I think those few lines of yours just about sums up the traditional Irish republican psyche, the last sentence in particular.

  3. –aggression that was once widespread in the divided society has become more internalised–.

    There was a problem before, and there is a problem now. There was a lot of anger floating around for decades and nuch longer. This anger must be addressed.

  4. “Once the ‘excitement’ is over, the dullness of routine living foments individualism and loneliness.”
    Best you end it all now then Colm!

    You are IMNHO partly right. Human beings as I never tire of saying are biologically tribal animals. We NEED structure, we NEED a role to play, a cause to serve, and praise for a job well done.
    Freedom and prosperity bring their own problems
    Even us Christians understand that.

    The tragedy of Northern Ireland affects everyone who live there. Those who have experienced loss of loved ones, humiliation, coercion and sheer despair at the “never ending story” will suffer most. Leaving aside whose to blame, look at the effects.
    Some will appear to be coping and yet may be falling apart on the inside. I can think of two, no three, on ATW who have been badly affected.
    I can understand the suicide rates going up, and as Phantom says, there’s a lot of anger out there.

  5. “Take a certain Mr G. Adams for example: ”

    Richard, rather an odd statement coming from you.

    DO you mean you think he might have been abused, or that he was an abuser, or having an abuser in the family affects you?
    Suicidal thoughts/attempts amongst the abused children we worked with was not uncommon, but I seriously doubt it is a big factor in this situation.

  6. Agit8ed,

    Sorry, I was a bit rushed when I commented and left it unfinished. I wished to draw a link between child abuse and terrorism, how the unresolved anger of the abused child can find an outlet in violent acts.

    I believe Adams was abused, yes. He seems to have hinted in his interview that the abuse triggered a lot of bad stuff in the family.

    It makes sense to me that the suicide rate in NI has risen since the peace accord. With the falling away of targets, the abused turned their violence inwards 🙁

  7. “Sorry, I was a bit rushed when I commented and left it unfinished. I wished to draw a link between child abuse and terrorism, how the unresolved anger of the abused child can find an outlet in violent acts.”

    Actually, your saying that reminded me of a recent American book, the title of which escapes me.
    The premise was that intelligent/advantaged people who are products of broken homes, or lifestyles without bounds/consistency, may well harbour feelings of anger or injustice developed in childhood.
    Then in adulthood and professional life those feelings of anger are channeled into support for minority groups and movements. This championing of peoples’ rights and minority groups can be very selective, irrational even, because the person is directing their inner hostility towards those in positions of power.
    I will try and find it on Amazon.
    Interestingly though Richard,
    (Btw, isn’t this nice? You and me having a pleasant exchange over points of agreement.
    It won’t last of course..)

    Yes, interestingly though,
    I came from a very dysfunctional family. Mum and Dad were first cousins. Father traumatised from experiences in the Royal Navy, WW2. A north country family well away from their roots in the North East. Domestic violence, furniture smashed up,shouting, screaming, blood.
    Yet through all of this none of my siblings became violent or abusive or social drop outs -well, my elder brother became an alcoholic- but four of us married and live in stable relationships.
    The one constant in our formative years was Christian values, friends who were involved in their churches, and parents who despite everything stayed together.

  8. Phantom,
    Went in at 9.30 this morning accompanied by Mrs Agit8ed.
    Asked the guy with the probe what on earth attracted him to specialising in exploring peoples’ “inner space”.
    He sort of laughed, but then the procedure took 40 minutes instead of thirty…
    I occasionally glanced at the monitor, but mainly I just wanted it finished.

    They found two polyps and took them off.
    I asked if I could have them.
    They said, “No they have to go for biopsy.”

    Which was a pity, ‘cos I intended to grow them in culture dishes, and name them after a couple of guys on ATW I consider “pains in the arse”* 😉

    I am okay now. I should know whether they found cancer (which of course was my main worry -more than the physical discomfort) in about a week.

    Thanks for remembering. 🙂

  9. mmmmmmmmm…during the ‘troubles’ there was widespread misdiagnosis of trauma-related mental illness. Trauma inflicted by all sides on innocents and not-so-innocents. Many people were drugged with antipsychotics; not just anti-depresants BTW. An enormous amount of people have post-traumatic-related issues…and people with PTSD-type issues have a high rate of suicide….not just in NI but it’s common in every war-like or war-torn areas. PTSD sucks and it can affect every aspect of one’s life and those around them. Sometimes…people get tired of living with PTSD.
    A8…poor fella…you’ll be okay.

  10. and David, consider yourself lucky or blessed…I think of 9/11…some folks who lived through it developed trauma-related problems; others didn’t. Nature? Nurture? Nobody knows for sure how much each component plays into PTSD-type issues, or full-blown PTSD. Developmental PTSD…that which develops during the developmental stages of a child…is the often the most devastating. It affects personality development. It affects cognitive abilities. It affects one’s belief that there is hope.
    I’ll stop now…I could go on forever on this topic.
    It’s not about boredom…it’s not about not knowing how to cope without the constant danger and fear…it’s about brain rewiring and never being able to believe you are safe…never being able to trust…always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from beneath you or a bomb to explode. A face, a gesture, a sound a smell…can send you in a tizzy instantly. It’s a tough, tough way to live.

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