The suicide rate amongst 15- to 29-year-olds is on the rise, and today it ranks as the second biggest killer of that particular age bracket. On average, a suicide is recorded every 40 seconds worldwide. Once the horror of that particularly shocking statistic has sunk in, perhaps we can start to debate the reasons why.
Those reasons are of course numerous – countless probably – and while we accept that some level of mental illness is at play, clearly the causes and effects of love, life and money worries are having a turbulent impact upon the well-being of this still youthful generation.
There has been a lot of attention paid to the gambling industry of late by the UK media in particular, and clearly it would be foolish to neglect the fact that there’s a clear link between addiction and the feelings of helplessness that are often the trigger of suicidal thoughts.
It’s a thorny subject and one that, perhaps understandably, most operators would rather turn a blind eye to. In a free world, society has to be allowed to have a certain amount of personal autonomy, hence why a state of prohibition free from cigarettes, alcohol and gambling does not appeal to the vast majority.
But not all online betting firms are trying to sweep the matter under the carpet, and for that reason alone PartyPoker deserves a huge amount of credit. The online casino is hosting a charity poker tournament over in Ireland to support the Capuchin Centre.
The center is a facility that aims to reduce the number of homeless people in Dublin by providing respite care and, where possible, a room for the night. The competition will also benefit Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm centre in the city.
The charity tournament will be co-hosted by Dusk till Dawn, Northern/Celtic Poker and the Cue Club, with all money raised going to the two worthy causes mentioned above. Entry is open to everyone, whether a poker beginner or experienced player, and the action gets underway on Sunday September 10.
Buy-in is €120 and the first card will be dealt at 4pm GMT, although late registration will continue until 6:15pm. A starting stack of 10,000 in chips is handed out, with blinds increasing every 20 minutes. Should you perish early, re-buys are available at €50 a time.
In addition to all funds raised going to the two charities, PartyPoker has also announced that it will match all re-buys and any donations made on the day. Padraig Parkinson, who is an ambassador for both PartyPoker and Poker for the Homeless, said:
"Poker for the Homeless has been without a roof over its head for four years, and we’re delighted to have finally found it a home again at Grand Prix Killarney. We all know the toll the recession has taken on Ireland and the housing crisis has added further to the problems the most vulnerable in society are facing. Over the last decade the Irish poker community, with the help of our many generous friends from abroad, has raised almost €250,000 for Irish homeless causes, and we’ll pull together again to show our support for the amazing work these charities do on the frontline, day-in, day-out, giving desperate people hope."
The online gambling industry has come in for a bit of a hammering recently, with the Guardian launching their own investigation into problem gambling. While the link between addiction and mental health is clear for all to see, their report perhaps points the finger of accusation in the wrong place.
Problem gambling is a product of a troubled mind, that cannot be in doubt. But there are so many other societal factors that can lead to mental illness – and genetics is also, unfortunately, a contributory factor – that a hatchet job on the betting industry is rather unhelpful.
The most recent industry statistics show that some 400,000 people in the UK have a problem that can be categorised as gambling addiction, while up to two million are said to exhibit behaviours and patterns that could potentially lead to addiction. The report, conducted by the UK Gambling Commission, also confirms that cases of gambling problems have increased by a third among people aged 16 and over in the past three years alone.
So credit to PartyPoker, who is at least doing its bit to help tackle the issue even on a micro scale. Its support of the Capuchin Centre and Pieta House will make a huge difference to those two organisations, and for the short term at least those at risk of homelessness – an obvious trigger of mental illness, and those with pre-existing conditions will get the help they need!