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Proper strategy on suicide essential-Adams

19 June, 2007

Commenting on the findings of the inquiry into the death of teenager Danny McCartan Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams today said; "This report places a huge responsibility on the Health Service to implement the recommendations contained in it and to make sure that everything that can be done is done to ensure that this type of tragedy never happens again."

Mr Adams said:

"This inquiry details a catalogue of failures which resulted in the loss of a young man's life and the grief and hurt which his family have had to carry since then. Danny McCartan was passed from pillar to post by a health service which failed to respond to his needs with compassion, consistency and urgency.

"This tragedy underpins the need for a strategic integration of services intended to help those at risk of taking their own lives. No one feeling suicidal should be left to negotiate their own way through the labyrinth of the health system to find someone who will help them. The health system needs to be person-centred and responsive."

"The McCartan family are not the only family to have been subjected to such an ordeal. The priority now must be to ensure that no family is ever again left abandoned in the face of suicide. The Health Service is under a heavy onus to make the changes necessary to ensure this tragedy can never happen again."

The west Belfast MP added:

"There is still a serious problem in under-provision of psychiatric and community services for children, adolescents and young adults in the six counties. Sinn Féin has raised this problem in the past, especially in north and west Belfast. We now need to see a strategic shift in the Health service response to suicide prevention. The outworking of the regional suicide prevention strategy must involve urgency in relation to care and support services for children and young people.

As a first step, Sinn Féin wants to see the rapid extension to the whole of the six counties of the suicide help-line and referral service presently being piloted in north and west Belfast. I will be seeking a meeting with both health Ministers on this island to ask what they are doing to co-ordinate suicide prevention, in conjunction with families and support groups, across the 32 counties."

Ends/ deireadh

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