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Gerry Adams to liaise with Joanne Spain on suicide prevention strategy

8 May, 2006

Following Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams‚ visit to Dublin Mid West last Thursday, 4 May, local Sinn Féin representative Joanne Spain says she and the West Belfast MP have agreed to liaise directly on the issue of suicide prevention. West and North Belfast have the highest rates of suicide in the Six Counties and it was recently revealed that Clondalkin has the highest incidence of suicides in the 26 Counties. A week of events to highlight the numbers in suicide in Clondalkin is taking place this week.

Ms Spain said:

"During our visit to Quarryvale Community and Leisure Centre last Thursday, I brought up the issue of the startling rate of suicide in this part of the constituency. Gerry Adams has worked closely with a number of groups on this issue in Belfast, which has the highest rate of suicide in the North. He promised that he would begin working with me on this issue immediately, in the hope that some information could be shared between the two communities that may be of help in preventing unnecessary, tragic deaths.

"Ireland has experienced a rise in suicide rates, with an increase greater than 25% on both sides of the Border in the last decade. Almost half of these were people under the age of 35, with nearly four times as many men as women taking their own lives. The current pace of modernisation and fragmentation of communities, as well as alcohol misuse, have been identified as factors in the rising rates.

"Sinn Féin has identified suicide as a priority area requiring a concerted programme on the part of Government, the voluntary sector and communities to tackle this problem more effectively.

"In our new policy document, Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals, launched last week, we are calling for the following:

  • A fully resourced all-Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy.
  • Suicide prevention to be made an area of co-operation under the all-Ireland Ministerial Council.
  • Development of all-Ireland guidelines for A&E personnel responding to those patients presenting with deliberate self-harm or acute suicidal behaviour.
  • Investment in further clinical and community-based research on suicide prevention

"This week will see a number of events take place in Clondalkin to highlight the high number of suicides locally. The media has noticed this and is giving the issue, rightly, the coverage it deserves. But I would call on the media to not just use this week for headlines, but to actively support suicide action groups in Clondalkin and surrounding areas in the future." ENDS

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