Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called for the immediate establishment of an all Ireland taskforce to help combat suicide on the island. Ms de Brún said that such a joined up approach could help 'alleviate the numbers of people who either self-harm or take their own lives every year'.
The former Assembly Health Minister made her comments after the announcement that the Health Service Executive in the 26 Counties is preparing to establish a 'national office' to help reduce the numbers of people taking their own lives every year.
Speaking from Strasbourg today Ms de Brún said:
"I want to welcome the establishment of an agency in the 26 Counties to help co-ordinate the work of the suicide prevention services. The fact that suicide accounts for more deaths than traffic related deaths must stir the relevant services into immediate action.
"In parts of my own constituency, suicide levels have steadily increased, particularly amongst young people. Much more resources are required if we are to effectively combat this growing trend. Resources must be targeted toward community initiatives and groups on the ground who have a wealth of first hand experience in dealing with this issue. Many families of those who have taken their own lives rightly feel let down by the authorities and the fact remains that mental health services north and south remain grossly under-funded.
"Co-ordination, the pooling of resources and a single centre for education and training is not only common sense, but essential on an island of 5 million people. There is a particular concern in border areas that two sets of suicide prevention services has lead to unnecessary duplication.
"I want to reiterate the calls made by Gerry Adams some months ago, that suicide prevention should become an area of co-operation under the Good Friday Agreement and that the Ministers with responsibility in both parts of this island meet to agree, and promote a strategic approach to suicide prevention across the entire island. Such a joined up approach could help alleviate the numbers of people who either self-harm or take their own lives every year." ENDS