A suicide epidemic

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Features, Issue 5 (September/October 2013), Volume 21

A spate of suicide attempts among prostitutes in Galway followed the death of Mary Kate Costelloe, who drowned herself on 20 September 1888. Two days later, Mary Reilly jumped into the same river shouting Costelloe’s name. She was rescued and jailed for 30 days. Later that same week Kate Dolan jumped in, declaring that she ‘would not put up with all the warrants and imprisonments’. As this was not her first attempt she received a sentence of six months. The matter did not end there. On 30 October Anne Owens declared that she would ‘follow her comrade Mary Costelloe and drown herself rather than go to jail’. She too was rescued and got 30 days.

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