When Fr Denis Doyle was ordained in 1971 suicide was a rarity in County Wexford.

Today, at a time when the county has one of the highest suicide rates nationally, it is not uncommon for priests like Fr Doyle to be called to say Mass at funerals of several people who have taken their own lives in one year in communities.

Fr Doyle spoke passionately about the stigma of suicide at the funeral Mass of Cllr Fergie Kehoe in Wexford in April, crticising the Catholic Church for regarding suicide as a sin to be condemned. He made the point that suicide and the mindset that fosters suicidal thoughts is an illness and not a sin.

Speaking to this newspaper, Fr Doyle said: ‘When I was a priest in the 1970s there was a huge stigma attached to suicide and mental health which was seen more as madness than an illness. Unfortunately it was shoved under the door and left there. People didn’t want to talk about it and people were embarrassed.

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