The topic of suicide is strongly emotive and anxiety-provoking. As such, calm, rational analysis is very difficult. This often leads to a type of catastrophic thinking and a set of assumptions that may not be entirely justified by the evidence.
In this talk, the prevailing societal assumptions about suicide are listed and tackled both by recourse to the meagre available evidence and to critical analysis.
The objective is to arrive at a realistic but not pessimistic assessment of suicide in our society and to outline how policy in this area might most productively develop.
Dr Patrick Devitt is a consultant psychiatrist who has just finished a 7-year term as Ireland’s Inspector of Mental Health Services. He has worked as a psychiatrist in Ireland and the USA. He is a co-author of Changing Minds – Home not Hospital a book describing Ireland’s first Home Care Team in Clondalkin, Dublin where he worked for 7 years. He is also co-author with Derek Beattie of a recently published book Suicide – a Modern Obsession. His main interests are in community psychiatry, occupational psychiatry and psychiatric ethics.