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Mayo suicide rate ‘alarming’ – coroner


DISHEARTENED Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald, Coroner for North Mayo.

Anton McNulty

THE Coroner for North Mayo has said that up to half the deaths she deals with are a result of suicide, and she described the trend as ‘alarming’.
Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald, Coroner for North Mayo made the comment following the inquest of a 26-year-old veterinary nurse who died after taking a lethal level of pentobarbital, a drug used by vets to euthanise animals.
The inquest, which took place last week in Ballina, heard that the woman had a history of depression, and she took her life on July 3, 2018, the day before her 27th birthday.
Speaking after the inquest, Dr Fitzgerald said: “The suicide increases in Mayo, including young people, is alarming. Up to 50 percent of inquests held are because of self-inflicted injuries and suicide … It is disheartening to see young people give up on life,” she said.
The deceased woman worked in a veterinary clinic in Ballina. She was found unconscious by work colleagues when they arrived at the practice at approximately 8.30am. The witnesses explained that a syringe half filled with pentobarbital was found along with a note.
The emergency services attempted to revive her, and they managed to secure a heart beat, but she went into cardiac arrest when she was put in the ambulance. They were informed that there was no antidote to the drug, and she was pronounced dead at 9.15am.
Dr Fadel Bennani, the consultant pathologist who performed the postmortem, said the levels of pentobarbital were at 56.3mg and the toxic rate is between 8mg and 10mg. He said the cause of death was due to acute respiratory arrest due to an overdose. He said that antidepressants were also in her system, but these were at therapeutic levels.
A work colleague said they were aware of her history of depression, as she was open about it, but they had not thought she would take her own life. The inquest heard that all the staff had access to the drugs.
Dr Fitzgerald said the young woman had sought help for her depression and was on medication but it obviously did not help her. She recorded a verdict of death due to suicide and expressed her sympathy to the young woman’s family.