River Shannon suicide attempts come under Dáil scrutiny

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín speaking in the Dáil.

ALMOST 500 people have attempted suicide on the River Shannon in Limerick in the past five years, according to figures logged by the Garda PULSE system.

The Garda numbers, revealed through a parliamentary question from Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, show that a total of 493 incidents were recorded between 2017 and 2021 involving “person misadventure” at the Shannon.

The breakdown of figures from the PULSE system indicate that a total of 139 incidents in which people entered or attempted to enter the River Shannon were recorded by Limerick Gardaí in 2017.

The figure fell to 87 the following year, with 89 occurring in 2019.

Some 95 such incidents were recorded across 2020, with 83 in 2021.

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Figures show that a further 67 instances have taken place to date this year.

The figures have been described by Aontú Limerick representative Sarah Beasley as an indictment of the country’s mental health system.

“Through the Aontú homeless outreach, and our work with the Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention team, we see the pain and anguish that far too many people are suffering,” Ms Beasley told the Limerick Post.

The incidents, which involved people entering or attempting to enter the Shannon, also featured sub-categories on the system, including “suicide”, “suicide (attempt only)”, “detained under the Mental Health Act”, and “missing person high-risk”.

However, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys has suggested that the actual number of suicide attempts may be even higher, saying that additional relevant incidents may have been recorded under separate categories.

Responding to the figures in the Dáil, Minister Humphreys said: “It is worth noting that these figures may not fully reflect all incidents of An Garda Síochána being called to incidents involving a person entering or seeking to enter the River Shannon in Limerick City”.

“Depending on the nature of the call, the incident may have been classified as something other than ‘Person Misadventure’. Figures provided were collated based on PULSE data on 22 November 2022. They are operational and may be liable to change.”

Ms Beasley this week described the statistics as “stark”, saying her thoughts and prayers were with those who have lost loved ones to the River Shannon.

“There can be no doubt that these figures would be much higher was it not for the great work of the Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention team,” she said.

Those experiencing negative thoughts and emotions, or who may be feeling at risk or needing to talk – as well as families and friends bereaved by suicide – can speak to qualified therapists at Pieta 24/7 on 1800 247 247 or by texting help to 51444. The Samaritans helpline is also open on 116 123.