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Both governments must move towards all-Ireland suicide prevention campaign - Crowe

23 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Social Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe today called on the Government to support the development of an all-Ireland campaign on suicide prevention. He was speaking in support of Aware’s Nationwide Depression Awareness week, and following commitments received by party President Gerry Adams MP MLA from the British government about taking an all-Ireland approach to the problem.


The Dublin South-West TD said: “Over 500 people take their lives every year. A truly terrifying statistic that is even greater than the death toll on our roads. According to the Government’s own figures 11,000 young people cause themselves deliberate self-harm annually, and Ireland has the fifth highest rate of suicide in the EU for 15-24 year olds.


“The need for support for local groups providing services to people facing depression and suicide has never been more acute. In my own constituency, I am patron of a group called Teenline, which was set up by an extremely brave mother whose son tragically took his own life.


“Her excellent work, and indeed the work of her volunteer colleagues, has no doubt saved lives and continues to do so. Yet due to financial constraints and lack of resources Teenline’s phone service can only operate on Fridays and Saturdays.The fact that this group has to rely on fundraising, volunteerism and the goodwill of people is an indication of the Government’s inadequate response to the scourge of depression and suicide.


“Sinn Féin has ensured that suicide prevention is a key element in our health policy, Health Care in an Ireland of Equals, which proposes an all-Ireland approach to address this sensitive and emotional issue. Ógra Sinn Féin has also campaigned extensively in this area.


“At the start of the month party President Gerry Adams MP MLA met British Health Minister Paul Goggins to review progress on the suicide prevention strategy in the Six Counties. In response to our lobbies, Minister Goggins agreed to take a proposal for an all-Ireland suicide awareness campaign forward and we are seeking a meeting with the Irish Government to discuss this.


“One of the points we have stressed is that the stigma attached to depression needs to be challenged and removed. The tragedies of suicide are so often swept under this society’s carpet. Suicide, as a significant killer, should be out in the open and the Government should be providing prevention, education and treatment measures for those vulnerable and in need. Lives can be saved as an estimated 80 per cent of serious depressions can be quickly helped.


“I would like to commend Aware and the work they carry out in helping sufferers of depression and hope that their Depression Awareness Campaign is a success and puts addressing the problems of depression and suicide once again on the political and societal agenda.”



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