The Paul Stafford Foundation


More than 400,000 Irish people experience depression at any one time (approx 1 in 10 of the population).

The total number of officially recorded suicides in 2007 was 463. It is widely accepted that the real figure may be as high as 600 deaths per year – the difference is due to the number of possible suicides which are recorded as open verdicts or accidental deaths by the Coroner’s Court.

The ratio of male deaths by suicide to female is approx 3:1.

Experts suggest that approx 80% of suicides can be traced back to depression.

Alcohol, loss and depression are considered to be the three main factors which, when combined, can lead to suicide.

1 in 3 of us will be affected by depression at some point in our lives – either directly, or as a family member.

For every one person who experiences the illness directly, as many as five others will be impacted upon (this especially applies to family members, but also includes friends etc).

Anyone from any background, age group or location can experience depression. There are many forms of depression including reactive depression, which comes about as a reaction to a major (often traumatic) life event; endogenous depression, which is due to internal biological factors and can occur after little stress, or indeed after a major life event; and bi-polar disorder (previously known as manic depression) which involves periods of elation or mania which alternate with bouts of depression.

There is still a lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms of depression, so it remains an under-reported illness. Others may suspect they are in the midst of a depressive episode, but may avoid seeking treatment and medical advice for fear of being labelled. This stigma is also a significant burden for those who have been diagnosed with, and are being treated for, depression.

Approx. 10% of adolescents aged 13-19 have a depressive disorder.

Women are three to four times more likely than men to have depression, but men are more likely to die by suicide. One in four men and one in two women will experience depression at some point in their lives

Depression hospitalises approx 10,000 people each year.

Suicide is at least four times more common in men than women (CSO)

Men under 35 years old account for around 40% of all suicide deaths

The Irish suicide rate has doubled since the early 1980s (CSO)

Over 11,000 cases of deliberate self-harm are seen in Irish hospitals every year (National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm – NRDSH)

Many other cases of self harm are not presented at hospitals. Some experts suggest the real level of self harm would be in the region 50,000 – 60,000

21% of deliberate self-harm acts are ‘repeat acts’ where the person has harmed themselves previously (NRDSH)

The highest rates of deliberate self-harm are among females aged 15- 19 years (NRDSH)


The more severe forms of depression carry a suicidal risk as the patient sees little hope for the future and is preoccupied with negative thoughts about his or her abilities. Such depressions that are left untreated can result in suicide. Some 15% of those with a depressive illness take their own lives. Suicidal thoughts as opposed to actions are very common.