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Strategy aims to cut suicide and self-harm by 10%

09 Jul 2015


Pic: Getty Images

While provisional suicide figures for 2013 (475 deaths) and 2014 (459 deaths) indicate a slight decrease in fatalities, a new national strategy has set a target of reducing suicide and self-harm by 10 per cent over the next five years.

The National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm indicates that in 2013 there were 11,061 presentations to hospital due to deliberate self-harm. International evidence confirms the presence of mental health issues; particularly depression and anxiety and also co-morbidity with drugs and alcohol are factors that significantly increase the risk of suicidal behaviour amongst individuals.

‘Connecting for Life’, Ireland’s new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention in Ireland 2015-2020, succeeds and builds upon ‘Reach Out’, Ireland’s first Strategy for Suicide Prevention for the period 2005-2014.

Speaking at its launch last week, Minister Kathleen Lynch said: ”We have developed services in primary care for those who have mild and moderate mental health needs. We are continuing to develop care for those who are acutely unwell.  We are finally seeing a breakthrough in some of the recruitment challenges that didn’t allow us to provide as extensive a service as we would like.

“We are committed to replacing the old central mental hospital with a state of the art National Forensic Hospital, which will be operational by 2018. We are developing four 30-bed intensive care rehabilitation units in Cork, Galway, Portrane and Westmeath. We are supporting organisations that are supporting people in our communities who are stressed, depressed or need to talk.  One size doesn’t fit all in mental health and the range of services reflects this.

“We need to connect with ourselves, our families, our communities and the services that are on offer,” Minister Lynch stated.

HSE National Director for Mental Health Anne O’Connor added: “The HSE will play a pivotal role through its work in the National Office for Suicide Prevention, the Mental Health Division, the Health and Well-being Division, the Primary Care Division and the Acute Hospitals Division.”

Director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) Gerry Raleigh believed ‘Connecting for Life’ provided “clear direction” for the future. “We have developed the strategy by following a collaborative, inclusive and evidence informed pathway. We must now move into focused action and be accountable for what we do to reduce suicide in Ireland.

“We recognise that we cannot do this alone: no single agency, no single Government Department, no single individual can reduce suicide on their own. Therefore, we must ensure that we work together to achieve our shared and attainable goal for our nation,” he said.

CSO data shows that between 2007 and 2011 there was an increase in the suicide rate in Ireland, specifically among men.  However, recent figures point to a reduction in the rate of suicide.

The ‘Connecting for Life’ goals include better understanding of suicidal behaviour, supporting communities to prevent and respond to suicidal behaviour and targeted approaches for those vulnerable to suicide. It envisages improved access, consistency and integration of services, safe and high-quality services, and better data and research.

It sets out 69 actions agreed by 10 Government departments, 21 State agencies, NGOs, community and voluntary sector partners.

gary.culliton@imt.ie

william.bourke

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times