Press Release

Cross Border co-operation in creating awareness of suicide reaffirmed at meeting

Dr Jimmy Devins, T.D., Minister for Disability and Mental Health was speaking today (Thursday February 21) following a wide ranging and very productive meeting with the Northern Ireland Health Committee chaired by Mrs Iris Robinson MP MLA.

Minister Devins said he “acknowledged the importance and value of adopting an all island approach in creating awareness of suicide and collaborating in the area of suicide prevention”. He added, “a concerted approach is needed if we are to prevent the further tragic loss of life”.

Minister Devins continued, ‘‘Suicidal behaviours do not recognise borders, political or geographical. Reducing suicide rates requires a collective effort. Formal commitment has been made in the development of all island collaboration in this area. There is reciprocal north-south membership on the respective implementation groups for the strategies in Northern Ireland Protect Life – A Shared Vision and in the Republic of Ireland Reach Out. An All Island Action Plan for Suicide Prevention has been developed. Implementation of this plan is on-going and significant progress has been made to date on a number of action areas including the development of a Joint Awareness Campaign.’’

Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Assembly Health Committee Iris Robinson MP MLA said, ‘‘suicide is an issue of great importance on both sides of the border and the visit today by the Northern Assembly Health Committee has allowed us to explore common ways of dealing with the issue. The meeting with Minister Devins and his officials has been a fruitful exercise. The Committee earlier had a valuable meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. The importance of community involvement is vital in tackling suicide and we were particularly pleased to visit Pieta House in Lucan which is an excellent model of intervention.’’

During the meeting it was acknowledged that a significant degree of cooperation exists on suicide prevention but that there is scope for development of the existing plan. These views were echoed by the Director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention Geoff Day who said that he looked forward to the findings of the inquiry.