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Adams welcomes Announcements on Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Provision

30 March, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has described today's announcement by the Health Minister Shaun Woodward on suicide prevention and mental health as 'a useful first step which will require careful monitoring to ensure that it delivers and meets the needs of those at risk'. Mr. Adams said: "Delivery is now the key to progress."

Mr. Adams spoke to the Minister this morning and was briefed on the proposals. The West Belfast MP sought and was given an assurance that the money being allocated was ring-fenced for this purpose.

"The West Belfast MP welcomed Mr. Woodward's commitment to fully fund the recommendations emerging from the special taskforce he established last year on suicide, including the appointment of a Director of Mental Health Services; increasing all-island co-operation on suicide prevention; and maintaining the Task Force for one year to ensure its recommendations are introduced in full.

Mr. Adams said:

'The Suicide Task Force was established by the Health Minister Shaun Woodward last year following intense lobbying by bereaved families, community activists and Sinn Féin.

"The statistics around suicide in the north, and on this island, make appalling and frightening reading. And west and north Belfast have suffered disproportionately. For example; there were 9.8 suicides per 100,000 persons per year from 1999 to 2003. But in West and North Belfast this rose to 18.1 and 17.9 respectively, almost twice the north's average. It is the largest killer of males from non disease related causes, and 79% of all suicides are male. Figures on self-harm are also alarming.

"Consequently, it is crucial that all the recommendations of the task force are fully implemented, particularly in respect of west and north Belfast. I also welcome his decision to improve on the all-Ireland approach and to increase co-operation between the two Health departments. This makes sense.

"Sinn Féin will continue to work closely with the bereaved families and the community groups active on this issue and we will monitor closely the outworking of today's announcements." ENDS

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