Press Release

Minister welcomes Report of the National Suicide Review Group

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Mr Tim O’Malley, T.D. has today 29th September 2004 welcomed the publication of the National Suicide Review Group Annual Report 2003.

The annual report of the National Suicide Review Group (NSRG) outlines the measures taken by the health boards in 2003 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 444 suicide deaths registered in 2003. 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 Minister O’Malley.

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. This year €4.5m will go towards suicide prevention programmes in the health boards and towards research aimed at improving our understanding of this disturbing social problem.  Therefore, since the publication of the Report of the National Task Force on Suicide in 1998, a cumulative total of more than €17.5m has been provided towards suicide prevention and for research.

Minister O’Malley also referred to the National Action-oriented Strategy for suicide prevention which is being prepared, jointly, by the Health Boards Executive (HeBE), the National Suicide Review Group and the Department of Health and Children. This strategy will build on existing policy and on the recommendations contained in the Report of the National Task Force on Suicide. All measures aimed at reducing the number of deaths by suicide will be considered in the preparation of this strategy which will be published in 2005.

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.