Press Release

Mr Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State, responds to Deputy Enda Kenny´s recent criticisms on the National Task Force on Suicide

Responding to recent criticisms by Deputy Enda Kenny in relation to the implementation of the recommendations of the National Task Force on Suicide, Mr Tim O´Malley, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (31st March 2004) stated that “since the publication of the report of the National Task Force on Suicide in 1998, there has been a positive and committed response from both the statutory and voluntary sectors towards finding ways of tackling the tragic problem of suicide”.

“Health boards, in particular, have a major role to play in co-coordinating efforts to help reduce the level of suicide and parasuicide in this country” the Minister said. Resource Officers have been appointed in all the health boards with specific responsibility for implementing the Task Force’s recommendations. In response to the recommendations of the Task Force, the National Suicide Review Group was established by the Health Boards.

The Task Force Report recommended that steps be taken to make the mental health services more accessible to the public, particularly to young people. Since 1998 a total of 72 additional consultant psychiatric posts have been approved. Additional funding has also been made available in recent years to further develop consultant-led child and adolescent psychiatry services to assist in the early identification of suicidal behaviour and to provide the necessary support and treatment to individuals at risk.

“My Department has given special attention over the past few years to the resourcing of suicide prevention initiatives” stated Minister O´Malley. Since the publication of the Task Force report in 1998, a cumulative total of more than €17.5m has been provided towards suicide prevention programmes and for research. These figures do not include funding provided by other Government Departments such as the Departments of Education and Science, Environment and Local Government and Justice, Equality and Law Reform who were identified in the Report of the National Task Force on Suicide as having a role to play in suicide prevention.

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.

“I would like to stress that the Government shares the public concern about the level of suicides in this country” said the Minister.