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Statistics show one suicide every fortnight in Galway



There was one suicide recorded in Galway every fortnight last year, according to new figures that prove the problem persists.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) Vital Statistics yearly summary for 2014 also shows that suicide in men in particular is a huge problem in the city and county.

The official figures suggest that there were 26 suicides recorded in Galway last year. That includes 18 in the county and eight in the city.

The CSO figures showed there were 28 suicides in Galway in 2013 and 2012, there were 37 in 2011 and 27 in 2010, meaning there were 146 suicides in the past five years.

All 18 of the suicides in the county in 2014 were men; and five of the eight suicides in the city were men. Almost 90% of the suicides recorded in Galway last year were male; three of the Galway suicides were woman. Galway had the highest number of suicides in Connacht, where some 64 suicides were recorded of which 54 were male.

The suicide rate, calculated as deaths per 100,000, is showing an upward trend in the city, from 7.7 in 2009, to 8.3 in 2013 and 11.1 in 2014. In the county the trend of the suicide rate is downwards, from 12.9 in 2009, to 12.5 in 2013 and 10.2 in 2014. Both are slightly above the national suicide rate of 10 per 100,000 deaths; the suicide rate in Connacht is 11.8.

The CSO figures show that suicide is a predominantly male problem in Galway and right across the country. In Mayo, for example, some 14 of the 18 suicides last year were men; in Roscommon, nine out of the 10 recorded suicides were men; and in Leitrim all three suicides recorded were male. A total of 459 suicides were officially recorded in Ireland last year; of these, 368 were male and 91 female.

Tuam-based Fianna Fáil spokesperson on mental health, Colm Keaveney, said suicide and self-harm is an epidemic in Galway and the country.

The Galway East TD said the problem is far worse than the official figures suggest; and the prevalence of suicide among men is related to the economy, and unemployment.

“The problem of suicide and self-harm is going to be a serious stain on our society when we look back in years to come. Our failure to react and reform to deal with this epidemic is shameful,” he said.

He said there are a wide range of complex factors in male suicides but unemployment, pride, stigma and a fear of reaching out and asking for help are all in the mix.

Male suicides are a huge problem but he said self-harm and other mental health issues such as eating disorders are prevalent among women.

Deputy Keaveney said community and voluntary organisations such as men’s sheds and GAA are all positive outlets for men but more needs to be done.

“There’s something seriously wrong with our mental health service in Galway when they are given a budget of €60 million for the year and 10% of it is returned. We have 3,000 children nationally on waiting lists for their first appointment with CAMHS (Child and Adult Mental Health Service), and 600 of them are waiting over 12 months. That’s a crisis,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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