Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called on the government to invest more money and resources in suicide awareness and prevention, and to agree an all-island suicide prevention strategy with the Executive in the North.
He said: “An all-island suicide prevention strategy can make best use of existing resources and focus them on the areas of greatest need.”
Teachta Adams also welcomed the Rural Suicide Awareness Initiative that is being launched today involving farmers’ organisations, rural groups and Pieta House.
“Reports last week revealed that one of the groups hardest hit by suicide is farmers and those living in rural communities.
Around 500 people die each year in this state and 300 in the North. It is accepted that the real figure for suicide is higher and that as many as 1000 citizens die across this island each year by suicide. The human cost of which, on families and communities, is devastating. The reality is that all sections and all generations of our society are affected, from the very young to the very old, and in rural and urban areas.
Self-harming is also a huge issue in Irish society today. Thousands are admitted to hospitals every year as a result of self-harm which in many cases go unreported. The Self Harm Registry published last week recorded that 12,010 people presented themselves to hospitals in 2012.
While much good work has been done in recent years in raising awareness, developing suicide prevention strategies and producing reports more needs to be done. In particular suicide, like all mental health matters, does not receive the budget that is required to tackle this scourge.
One significant contribution to tackling suicide and self-harm would be greater co-operation between the health services north and south. In particular the creation an all-Ireland Suicide Prevention Agency that would co-ordinate the work of all of those involved would bring immediate benefits.
Note to Editor:
In evidence to the Dáil Joint Committee on Health and Children three years ago Prof Kevin Malone of the School of Medicine and Medical Science UCD and St Vincent’s University Hospital reported that in 23 countries suicide levels are significantly higher than the official statistics suggest.