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Crowe in call for strategic action on suicide prevention

5 May, 2005

Dublin Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has echoed a call, made by party president Gerry Adams last week, for strategic action on suicide prevention. Speaking on a private members motion by the Independent Group in the Dáil last night he said the "problem can be addressed and addressed effectively."

Deputy Crowe said, "The rate of suicide in this country is quite shocking. The OECD in 2002 placed Ireland second in the world in a league table of people under 25 taking their own lives. As the motion states it is the most common cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, the highest in the EU for this age group.

"This has been compared to road deaths and the rate of deaths on the roads has often been described as a national emergency. But suicide rates far exceed road deaths. So, as a massive social problem the rate of suicide has to be addressed by everyone in public life and by service providers in a much more concentrated and co-ordinated way.

"It has been noted that suicide rates tend to be higher outside the greater Dublin area. Various theories have been advanced to explain this but the most plausible is that while services for people in need of counselling, with mental illness or experiencing crisis in their lives are thin on the ground in Dublin, even so they are more accessible than in other parts of the country. Surely this shows starkly the need for better and more accessible services.

"Gerry Adams is MP for West Belfast and in response to the problem in that constituency last week he stated, 'If suicide is a national disaster in Ireland, we urgently need a national disaster plan. That must be a priority. The Health Departments in Belfast and Dublin must begin to realise that the public want urgent, strategic action on suicide prevention.' I want to echo that call.

"The point that has to be made is that this problem can be addressed and addressed effectively. Of course suicide can never be completely eliminated but experience in other countries has shown that with proper planning, withresources and services, and with a determination on the part of policy-makers, lives can be saved and many families can be spared the grief of the death of a loved one." ENDS

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