Press Release

Tánaiste Launches Suicide Prevention Strategy

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., today (8th September, 2005) launched Reach Out – a National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention.

The ten-year Strategy, which was developed by the Project Management Unit of the HSE and the National Suicide Review Group, supported by the Department of Health and Children, sets out a range of actions to be taken by various State and non-governmental agencies on four different levels:

  • The general population
  • Specific target groups such as young men, prisoners, unemployed etc.
  • Responding to a suicide
  • Information and research

“Suicide is now a very serious issue in our society and there is no single intervention or approach that will, of itself, adequately address the problem.” the Tánaiste said. “This National Strategy provides the framework which is required to assist all of us in identifying actions that can be taken to address it in a co-ordinated way.”

“This Strategy is practical, achievable, based on evidence and international best practice. It is further evidence of this Government’s determination to take whatever steps it can to reduce the level of suicide in our society. It will be subject to ongoing, regular evaluation to ensure that the expected outcomes are achieved”

“Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and in the promotion of positive mental health – from the health sector to schools and colleges, community groups and the wider corporate and business sectors” the Tánaiste added.

Driving the implementation of the Strategy will be a new National Office for Suicide Prevention, to be established immediately by the Health Service Executive (HSE) within its National Population Health Directorate. The office will be headed by Mr. Geoff Day, formerly Assistant CEO at the North Eastern Health Board, and also Chairman of the National Suicide Review Group.

Wide ranging consultation took place throughout the country during the development of the Strategy, drawing on the experience, perspectives and ideas of key stakeholders, interested agencies and concerned individuals. This consultation process, combined with continuous monitoring of evidence and best practice, allowed for both an evidence-based and a pragmatic approach to be taken in prioritising the actions which are set out.

In addition to existing funding, a further €500,000 is being allocated for the remainder of this year to commence the implementation of the Strategy. Immediate priorities include:

  • The development of a major national campaign to promote positive mental health;
  • The delivery of a national intervention skills training programme;
  • The creation of new services for treating deliberate self-harm in A&E Departments and the expansion of existing services;
  • The development of bereavement support services.

Additional funding allocations will be made available over the coming years to support the Strategy and to complement local and national efforts.

At a broader Governmental level, a Task Force is to be established with representatives of relevant Departments to advise on and provide support in implementing the Strategy.

Appendix

Some Key Facts and Figures:

  • The average number of suicide deaths in Ireland each year is 494, the highest number of deaths occurred in 2001 (519) (Central Statistics Office)
  • 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 Parasuicide Registry)
  • 21% of deliberate self-harm acts are ‘repeat acts’ where the person has harmed themselves previously (NPR)
  • The highest rates of deliberate self-harm are among females aged 15-19 years (NPR)
  • In a community sample of young men it was reported that 78% ‘knew someone’, 42% ‘knew more than one person’ and 17% ‘knew a close friend’ who died by suicide (HSE Mid-Western Area, NSRG, NSRF)

Recent Data:

Year Male Female Total
2000 395 91 486
2001 429 90 519
2002 387 91 478
2003* 358 86 444
2004* 356 101 457

*2003 and 2004 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