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Drug and Alcohol treatment central to tackling suicide – Buckley

18 May, 2017 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin deputy Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has said that the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse in conjunction with mental health is essential to tackling the serious problem of suicide. He made his comments in response to a UCC study by the National Suicide Research Foundation found that 80% of suicides cases in Cork had alcohol and drugs as a key factor.

Deputy Buckley said:

“I want to welcome this piece of research firstly. The improvement of our knowledge on suicide, its risk factors, and the realities of what those who may contemplate need for supports not only helps us to tackle the problem through policy but helps all of society better understand the issue and assist loved ones and friends in seeking help. This is particularly important in my own area of Cork where we have recently experienced a series of tragic losses to suicide.

“The study in question looked at 121 cases of suicide in Cork over a 6 year period, the fact 121 deaths by suicide took place in just 72 months is cause for serious alarm and focused action.

“Alcohol was found in the body in 52% of cases.  This in itself may not seem too surprising but in 65% of the cases examined, the person had a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol and drugs are often used to self-medicate by people experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. In the longer term, this abuse is not just damaging to our health but severely damaging to our mental health also and in too many cases prevents people from seeking or receiving sufficient care.

“There are many risk factors for suicide in our society and economic factors play a major role. Depression and low self-worth due to poverty and unemployment can lead to serious substance abuse issues which only worsen the person’s health further.

“Our health service currently treats substance abuse and mental health separately even when a single person is struggling with both. This is called Dual Diagnosis and while it has received some attention recently, people are not being treated properly for mental health issues because of the existence of a current or former abuse problem.

“Recently, the HSE informed me that there are now 29 less addiction counsellors working for them than there was 10 years ago.

“We have to properly resource alcohol and drug treatment services and provide the support for people who want to recover. We must also ensure that addiction is never a block to proper mental health treatment and that no one falls through the cracks in the future.” 

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