Press Release

Minister O´Malley welcomes Report of the National Suicide Review Group

Mr Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, has today (25th September 2002) welcomed the publication of the National Suicide Review Group Annual Report 2001.

The third annual report of the National Suicide Review Group (NSRG) outlines the measures taken by the health boards in 2001 to help prevent suicide and reduce the impact of suicidal behaviour. The aim of the report is to facilitate the sharing of information across the health boards and other sectors regarding suicide prevention projects and to provide accurate and current information on the patterns of death by suicide in Ireland.

The report indicates that there were 448 suicide deaths registered in 2001 and more than ten times as many presentations following deliberate self-harm at general hospitals. Since 1997 the number of suicide deaths registered has consistently been higher than the number of vehicle accident deaths. The report shows that the highest suicide rate over the past 5 years has been among men aged 20 to 29 years. Across the health boards, there is little variation in suicide rates although the lowest rate has been found in the Eastern Regional Health Authority area.

“The statistical information contained in this Report is essential in the development of policies and the implementation of measures aimed at preventing suicide. It also helps to identify the groups who are particularly vulnerable, said the Minister.

The approach to suicide prevention outlined in the report shows a balance between general population strategies (education, health promotion etc.) and interventions targeting high-risk groups. Increased services and resources have also been dedicated to suicide bereavement support services throughout the country. Specific projects engaged in by the health boards in 2001 included the production of a public awareness leaflet entitled “Concerned about Suicide”, the development of crisis nurse services for people following deliberate self-harm and the training of staff in suicide bereavement support. This year €1.11m will go towards suicide prevention programmes in the health boards and towards research aimed at improving our understanding of this disturbing social problem. Almost €5m in total was provided for suicide prevention activities over the years 1999 – 2001 following the publication in 1998 of the Report of the Task Force on Suicide.

The report published today meets a requirement of The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions), Act 2001, which states that the Minister for Health and Children will report annually on the measures taken by health boards to prevent suicides in the previous year. Included in the report is an outline of projects supported by the NSRG, with Department of Health and Children funding, in the areas of mental health promotion, crisis intervention, bereavement support and research.

The report includes extensive appendices detailing suicide prevention and awareness resources such as recent Irish publications, Internet resources and audio-visual training packs. Contact details of support services and health board resources are also included.