Minister Moloney’s Speaking Notes at the Suicide or Survive (SOS) Annual Fundraising Lunch

I wish to thank Caroline McGuigan, Founder of ‘Suicide or Survive’ for the invitation to speak at this Annual Fundraising Lunch, the second year of this event. I know my colleague Minister Harney was in attendance at the inaugural event in 2009.

I am especially delighted to be here on World Suicide Prevention Day 2010. The theme of today is “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention Across the World”. Indeed, throughout the world today there are many events and fundraisers such as this taking place.

Today, I would particularly like to acknowledge the tremendous work being done throughout the country on suicide prevention by the HSE and many voluntary organisations.

With the recorded increase in suicide numbers here in Ireland in 2009, it is important that we work together as a country, and universally, in the fight against suicide. Too many lives are lost and the effect on families, friends, colleagues and communities can be overwhelming.

I accept that more has to be done in our quest to tackle suicide and I believe that this can only be done by agencies and stakeholders adopting a collaborative approach.

All agencies must work more closely together and with the HSE to maximise their effectiveness. By harnessing our resources and our commitment, we can make a difference and reduce the devastating effects suicide has on individuals and on communities.

As Minister of State with responsibility for mental health I welcome all initiatives that will assist in reducing the number of deaths by suicide.

There is no doubt that the current economic situation is having a serious impact on individuals, families and communities. As our economy adjusts, it is important to acknowledge the strains many people, particularly our young people, are experiencing in coping with a very difficult economic environment.

Having regard to the increase in the number of deaths by suicide, it is timely that the Government earlier this month approved €1m in funding under the Dormant Accounts Fund for a programme of suicide prevention measures. The initiatives being funded will help communities to develop integrated local action plans for suicide prevention and will enhance the ability of communities to prevent suicidal behaviour at all levels of risk, and is consistent with “Reach Out – the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention (2005)”.

The HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention has produced information leaflets and wallet cards entitled ‘Looking after your mental health during tough economic times’ which have been distributed widely. In addition an information booklet called “Suicide Prevention in the Workplace” provides organisations and workplaces with practical guidance on how staff can respond to and support persons who are at risk of suicidal behaviour has been produced.

Mental health awareness and promotion is a key ally in our quest to minimise the consequences of a recession and equally important to changing attitudes about mental health.

Engaging with people in distress and encouraging them to seek help is vital. The stigma that is often associated with mental health can deter people from seeking help. We are working to overcome this stigma and to change attitudes and behaviour with the ‘See Change’ National Stigma Reduction Campaign, which I launched earlier this year. I would like to thank Suicide or Survive for joining the Campaign as a partner organisation.

Finally, I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the event today and wish ‘Suicide or Survive’ every success with its fundraising and with its future endeavours. Thank you.