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Sinn Féin MEP welcomes European Commissioner's commitment to suicide prevention

19 January, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed a commitment by Commissioner Marcos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection to tackle mental ill health, with a particular emphasis on suicide. Commissioner Kyprianou has said that tackling mental ill health will be one of his priorities in his term of office.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"I want to welcome Commissioner Kyprianou's recent remarks around the issue of mental ill health. It is estimated that every year throughout Europe approximately 58,000 lives are lost as a result of suicide or intentional self inflicted injury, with no signs of this figure decreasing in the short term.

"Suicide in Ireland still remains largely a taboo subject even though it accounts for many tragic deaths. A recent report has revealed that one third of deaths in the age group 15 - 24 are a result of suicide. This is an absolutely shocking statistic. In areas such as North and West Belfast the statistics are even more worrying. In these two areas the rate of suicide is as much as 50% higher than average and the people most at risk are our young people.

"In meetings with both Lenadoon Counselling Project and PIPs (Public Initiative for for the Prevention of Suicide) I have heard at first hand the difficulties of those trying to provide help and assistance in this regard.

"Much greater resources are needed to provide support for those experiencing mental ill health and for those at risk from suicide, particularly young people. If real and practical support is forthcoming, then we may begin to address the problem of suicide.

"I hope that Commissioner Kyprianou's welcome commitment will provide new impetus and lead to a practical EU strategy that can address this problem with the seriousness it deserves. I will now contact the Commissioner for further details on how he hopes to move this forward from here.

"At national and local levels, government agencies and employers must invest in services that promote positive mental health and which support people in distress and support the families affected by suicide and self-harm." ENDS

Note to Editor: Bairbre de Brún is a member of the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

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