Sinn Féin - On Your Side

British minister's comments on suicide show total lack of understanding

28 June, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP said that remarks today by direct rule Minister Shaun Woodward have damaged confidence in his ability to deal with the very serious issue of the suicide:

"Shaun Woodward met with families bereaved by suicide and community activists last week. He heard from them their experience of suicide. He claimed he was in listening mode. However, based on his remarks today, he clearly wasn't listening to those he met last week.

"In his remarks today, he sought to abdicate responsibility for the failure of the Department of Health. And what greater failure could there be than having more people, especially young people, die in the whole of Ireland as a result of suicide than in most other countries in Europe."

"Undoubtedly the conflict in all it forms has had an impact on suicide. However, the evidence shows that social deprivation, unemployment, the lack of community resources, the under-funding of mental health services, and above all, the failure to develop a strategic approach to suicide prevention are in fact the greater cause of the higher than average levels of suicide particularly amongst our young people.

"Whilst Shaun Woodward holds the position of British direct ruler with responsibility for Health, he is responsible for the unforgivable failure of his Department to develop, fund and implement a suicide prevention strategy. Sinn Fein, together with families bereaved through suicide, and communities across the six counties will hold him accountable for rectifying that failure. No more excuses Mr Woodward - we want delivery of the strategies, policies and resources this serious issue requires." ENDS

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