It should come as no surprise that many in Limerick feel their city’s shortcomings have been unfairly highlighted in the media over the past ten years. While the city struggled with organised crime, many in the press – particularly those in Dublin – profited hugely from sensationalised and selective coverage of the problem. There are some who would go as far as to say that this was more than opportunistic profit chasing. More, that it has been an attempt to link violent crime with a specific location far from the majority of readers. In the cases of violent street crime inside the capital however, it was usually waved away as happening in something called “gangland”. Imagine the uproar if a redtop rag were to imply that Dublin was a city out of control? No, it’s always been a much safer strategy to sell Limerick’s misery to insulate Dublin’s sense of comfort. Limerick has undoubtedly had to shout very loudly – with little or no help from national media – about its successes and merits in order to overcome this colossal distortion of its image in the eyes of the rest of Ireland.
Sadly, it would appear that this problem is no longer specific to the capital’s media output. In the past six months, the Cork-based Irish Examiner has produced an almost obsessive level of coverage to Limerick’s suicide problem. Here’s just a few examples of the Leeside commentary on mental health issues and suicide in Limerick this year alone. To clarify – nobody can deny the serious problem of suicide and mental health in general in Ireland, particularly within our urban centres and among the travelling community. However searching for similar stories based closer to home for the Examiner yield only one result, a story of a local Garda managing to save the life of a would-be suicide victim.
All of this flies in the face of accepted media practice, which accepts numerous studies stating that increased reporting of suicide can actually increase the rate of suicide in a given locale. This is one of many reasons that more seasoned broadsheets with a decent professional ethos don’t tend to report broadly on suicide. No serious or responsible journalist would ever consider publishing anything that might lead someone to take their own life.
Readers form Limerick cannot help but wonder why this level of attention is being paid to our biggest social issue by our closest urban neighbour. The more cynical – myself included – have to wonder why a Cork newspaper is so desperate to highlight the suicide problem in Limerick. To be fair, it should be pointed out that Limerick’s suicide rate (as of the latest available data, published in 2012) is the second highest in the country.
Second only to Cork.
Below are some of the resources available to anyone struggling with thoughts of self-harm.
Jimi is the editor in chief of Soapbox.ie. You can get in touch with him here.