Harney must put relevant resources into suicide prevention – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson CaoimhghínÓ Caoláin TD has called on the Minister for Health Mary Harney to properly invest in suicide prevention strategies and mental health services. Deputy Ó Caoláin was speaking today after it was revealed that children as young as six are attempting to take their own lives and that there are sinister websites detailing how young people could kill themselves.
He said, "Ireland has one of the highest rates of suicide in Europe and despite this Minister Harney has set aside just €1.85 million for suicide prevention. This is pitiful when compared with the €18 million allocated in Scotland.
"Suicide is one of the biggest killers of our young people in particular and Minister Harney must treat the issue with the seriousness it commands. There are up to 600 deaths by suicide annually in the 26 Counties alone. Behind each and every suicide there is a tragic tale and a grieving family. And news this morning tells us that children as young as six years of age are attempting to take their own lives and are actually being taught how to do it by some sinister websites.
"All this tells me that we are now dealing with a National crisis and I am calling on Minister Harney to properly invest in suicide prevention strategies and mental health services. She should immediately ring-fence at least 12% of the health budget for mental health to guarantee that sufficient resources are available to implement an all-Ireland suicide prevention strategy and she must commit to supporting community based initiatives which are making a real impact and to further investment in clinical and community-based research on suicide prevention.
"There also needs to be a public awareness campaign around the dangers of some internet websites and there is a role to be played by social networking sites such as bebo and myspace in promoting and highlighting services aimed at helping young people. Ultimately, parents need to be aware of these sites and ensure that they are completely aware of what their children are viewing on the internet." ENDS