People did die of Covid-19 in Ireland in August

25th Sep 2020

Claim

There were no Covid-19 deaths in Ireland in August.

Conclusion

Incorrect. There were 14 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in Ireland in August.

 

There were 700 deaths from cancer in Ireland in August.

 

We don’t know these figures yet as it is too soon after the fact. The figure for cancer seems realistic from past trends, as there were around 830 deaths caused by cancer in Ireland per month in Q1 of 2020.

 

There were 70 deaths from alcohol in Ireland in August.

 

We could find no source for this figure. A 2013 average of 88 alcohol-related deaths a month in Ireland includes a number of different factors, such as the coroner mentioning alcohol dependency, certain alcohol-related diseases, and if they were an alcoholic.

 

There were 32 deaths from suicide in Ireland in August.

 

It’s too soon to know this figure as only a coroner can officially rule a death as a suicide, but this figure is realistic looking at past data.

Claim 1 of 4

A post on Facebook comparing the number of deaths caused by Covid-19, cancer, alcohol and suicide in Ireland in August has been shared over 2,000 times. The post gets a lot wrong, mainly that no-one died of Covid-19 in that time, when 14 people did.

People did die of Covid-19 in Ireland in August

The post claims that there were no Covid-19 deaths in August in Ireland. This is incorrect—there were 14 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in Ireland between 1 August and 31 August.

This includes deaths both in hospitals and community settings. Thejournal.ie have written more about how deaths are counted in Ireland here.

We don’t know a lot of these figures for August yet

Although governments are providing much more detailed information around Covid-19 deaths because of the pandemic, we do not generally get official data for the number of deaths from other causes this soon after the fact, either in Ireland or the UK.

For example, Ireland’s Central Statistics Office has only published death statistics for the first quarter of 2020. 

In that period there were 2,483 deaths from malignant neoplasms (cancer). This works out to about 830 a month, making the claim in the post that 700 people died of cancer in August a realistic figure, although as yet unproven.

The figure for alcohol-related deaths likely includes some cancer and suicide deaths

Alcohol itself is not an official cause of death category, and we weren’t able to find a source for the 70 figure claimed in the post. 

The charity Alcohol Action Ireland claims that 88 deaths every month in Ireland are “directly attributable to alcohol”. This figure seems to come from 2013, when there were 1,055 alcohol related-deaths, or an average of 88 a month, according to Ireland’s National Drug-Related Deaths Index.

We have not looked in detail at this figure, but it includes deaths where alcohol was named as a reason for death by the coroner, where it was recorded on the death certificate that the person was an alcoholic, had specific alcohol-related diseases, had a recorded history of treatment for alcohol abuse, and some other cases. This means this figure may well double count some of the other types of death mentioned in the post.

We don’t know how many people died by suicide in August yet

In Ireland, thejournal.ie fact checked similar viral claims, that 33 people had died by suicide in a single month (or week) in Ireland. It quoted a coroner as saying the claim was: “speculation at most and hearsay at worst.”

It concluded that although that figure wasn’t impossible, there was no evidence to prove it was the case, as it was too soon for deaths that recent to have been ruled as suicide. Looking at data for previous years, it found there were an average of 10 per week, which would make the figure in the post feasible.

Contacting Samaritans

The Samaritans’ helpline is available at all hours and can be contacted free on 116 123 in the UK and Ireland, or you can email jo@samaritans.org.