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Doherty outlines Sinn Féin key proposals for tackling suicide in Seanad debate

24 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said his party has identified suicide as a distinct priority area requiring concerted co-operation between Government, the health services, the voluntary sector and communities. Speaking during a Seanad debate on the Government's current Suicide Prevention Strategy Senator Doherty criticised the government for not doing enough.

He said, "The Government's Suicide Prevention Strategy is welcome as far as it goes. However far too little has changed since the Mental Health Commission Annual Report for 2004 showed that the Irish Government was falling far short of its international obligations. The report highlighted lack of services, under-resourcing of existing services, poor management, wide variation in clinical practice across the State and inconsistency in service availability between regions. It is a system in need of fundamental change.

"Sinn Féin has identified suicide as a distinct priority area requiring concerted co-operation between Government, the health services, the voluntary sector and communities. Our youth section, Ógra Shinn Féin, has campaigned on this issue. We have also included suicide prevention as a key element in our policy 'Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals'. Our proposals are echoed in the Report we are discussing. Our key proposals are:

· To make suicide prevention an area of co-operation under the all-Ireland Ministerial Council to give the issue the strategic co-ordination it requires.

· To frame and to implement a fully resourced, comprehensive All-Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, including:

· Actions to promote mental health among the general population, delivered through schools, youth services, workplaces and the media.

· Mental health promotion actions targeting specific sections of the population, incorporating their diverse needs into tailored suicide prevention sub-strategies.

· Mental health promotion and suicide prevention actions targeting groups identified as higher risk for suicide.

· Actions to assist individuals identified as at risk of suicide.

· Actions to assist people who are bereaved through suicide.

· Invest in further clinical and community-based research on suicide prevention.

· Develop national mental health awareness and anti-stigma campaigns to help tackle the issue of suicide.

· Include people at risk of suicide, families bereaved by suicide, and families of people at risk of suicide in policy-making on this issue.

"We would also agree with the Health and Children committee in calling for targets to be set for the reduction of the rates of suicide in this country." ENDS

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