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Taoiseach urged to resource and implement Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention

9 May, 2006


Sinn Féin Health Spokerson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has expressed his concern at the comments of Donegal Fianna Fáil TD Jim McDaid who has who has accused people of glorifying suicide victims at their funerals and who has described suicides as ‘sometimes selfish acts’ where mental illness was not a factor. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Caoláin called on the Taoiseach to “make a commitment to fully resource and implement the Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention for 2005-2014.”

He said, “There has been huge concern and much debate here in the Dáil recently about the terrible death toll from road traffic accidents.  But the number of deaths on the roads is exceeded by the number of deaths from suicide in Ireland and we have among the highest rates of suicide in the world.  It is the most common cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, the highest in the EU for this age group.  It is clear that we need a far higher level of awareness of this very serious problem.

“In that context I would like to express my concern at the comments of Deputy Jim McDaid who has accused people of glorifying suicide victims at their funerals and who has described suicides as ‘sometimes selfish acts’ where mental illness was not a factor.  My purpose is not to personalise this but to highlight the need for greater awareness and to avoid statements such as those of the Deputy which only add to ignorance, stigmatise people and cause distress to bereaved families.  

“Rather than blaming or stigmatising the victims of suicide what we need are effective programmes which reach out to all those who can be identified as being at risk of self-harm and suicide.  There is a key role for the education system in all of this.  We need far greater awareness and education on the overall issue of mental health to combat the stigmatising of the mentally ill and to increase awareness of mental illness which will affect one in four of the population at some time in their lives. 

“The Taoiseach must therefore make a commitment to fully resource and implement the Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention for 2005-2014 in this State.  He must also seek co-operation under the All-Ireland Ministerial Council to give the issue the strategic co-ordination it requires on this island.” ENDS

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