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Sinn Féin leadership publish open letter to mark World Suicide Awareness Day

9 September, 2005

Sinn Féin leadership publish open letter to mark World Suicide Awareness Day

Open Letter from Sinn Féin MPs, TDs and MEPs

The 10th September marks World Suicide Awareness Day. It is a day when
many families and friends throughout Ireland will remember and reflect on
the loved ones they have lost to suicide. As we mark this day, it should
also be remembered that there are people in our midst who are at risk,
each and every day, of taking their own lives.

Suicide is a global problem. The prevalence of suicide has increased over
recent years. In Ireland, the increase in suicide across the 32 counties
has been higher that in most other European  countries. To a large extent,
it is the younger generation who are being worst affected by the scourge
of suicide.

In the north of Ireland, more people have taken their own lives than have
died as a result of the political conflict during the last 35 years. In
the south, more people are killing themselves than are dying in accidents
on our roads.

Last year alone, nearly 600 people took their lives on this island. That
is a measure of the human cost of suicide. We believe this supports Sinn
Fein's assertion that suicide is a national disaster. Our society needs a
national disaster plan.

Many of those campaigning for strategic action on suicide prevention have
in the past justifiably criticised the lack of urgency shown by Health
Departments in Belfast and Dublin. In recent months, announcements have
been made by both administrations which suggest a changing attitude at
government level, forced upon them by the survivors, families and
campaigning groups. Whilst we welcome statements of intent, the real test
for both governments will be in delivering on their commitments.

The announcement this week by the Department of Health and Children in
Dublin of a 10 year plan on suicide prevention is welcome. Like the work
of the Suicide Task Force in the 6 counties, the real impact of this
announcement will be measured by implementation and its effect on local
communities. Meanwhile, in the six counties the Department of Health is
committed to producing a strategy position in the next two months.

Sinn Fein believes that suicide prevention must be promoted in an
integrated, holistic strategy which is resourced and implemented as one
across the 32 counties. No political or legal obstacle should be put in
the way of all-Ireland action on suicide prevention.

As leaders and representatives of Sinn Féin, we offer our sympathy to
those bereaved by suicide, our support to those at risk and our solidarity
and services to those in the our community working to prevent suicide.

Gerry Adams MP
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
Bairbre de Brún MEP
Martin McGuinness MP
Arthur Morgan TD
Michelle Gildernew MP
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Pat Doherty MP
Mary Lou McDonald MEP
Seán Crowe TD
Conor Murphy MP
Martin Ferris TD

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