Press Release

All-Island Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Campaign

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., today (12th March, 2007) welcomed the launch in Northern Ireland of a major public information campaign aimed at creating positive awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.

The campaign forms part of the wider North/South co-operation on suicide prevention, and begins today with the “It’s Me” television advertisement will be shown throughout the Island of Ireland.

Minister Harney said “suicide and mental health issues can affect everyone, from all walks of life across the island of Ireland. By increasing awareness of mental health issues we can help to change attitudes for the better and begin to eliminate the stigma often associated with these issues. This campaign aims to do that by getting the important message across that any one of us can experience mental health problems.

When we do experience mental health problems or an emotional crisis, it is important that people feel they can talk about their problems openly, and that they will be well received and listened to. This campaign is aiming to promote that kind of openness around mental health.”

Campaign development in the south of Ireland will be based on research findings from a survey into mental health awareness, currently being conducted by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention. The Director of the NOSP, Geoff Day, commented that “improved mental health awareness for everyone will be an important platform for the ongoing delivery of Reach Out, the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention.”

HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention

Some Key Facts and Figures:
•The average number of suicide deaths in Ireland each year is 495, the highest number of deaths occurred in 2001 (519) (Central Statistics Office data for 2000 – 2004 ‘year of occurrence of death’ data)
• Suicide is at least 4 times more common in men than women (CSO)
•Men under 35 years old account for around 40% of all suicide deaths (CSO)
•The Irish suicide rate has doubled since the early 1980s (CSO)
•Over 11,000 cases of deliberate self-harm are seen in Irish hospitals every year (National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm – NRDSH)
•21% of deliberate self-harm acts are ‘repeat acts’ where the person has harmed themselves previously (NRDSH)
•The highest rates of deliberate self-harm are among females aged 15-19 years (NRDSH)

Year Male Female Total
2001 429 90 519
2002 387 91 478
2003 386 111 497
2004 406 87 493
2005* 354 78 432

*2005 data are provisional only and are based on the year that deaths were registered.

If You Are Concerned About Someone
There are a wide range of supports and services that can help in a crisis, including:
• The local GP or family doctor.
•Accident and emergency departments of general hospitals.

The voluntary sector also provides services to help people in crisis. Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day by phoning:
1850 609090 (Republic of Ireland)
08457 909090 (Northern Ireland).
Or by e-mailing: jo@samaritans.org