Speaking Notes – Minister Lynch at the launch of the Three National Resources – Bereavement Quality Standards, Suicide Prevention in the Community and Suicide Awareness Training Programme for Older Persons

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and at the outset let me thank Catherine Brogan for her kind invitation to be here today to launch these three very important initiatives around suicide prevention and suicide bereavement.

It is a sad fact of life that each of us at some point in our lives will lose someone that we love. But when that person is lost to suicide the overwhelming sense of grief and bereavement is compounded.

The National Quality Standards for the provision of Suicide Bereavement Services is a welcome publication embracing best practice and setting national standards for all levels of suicide bereavement support services in Ireland.

The standards will help ensure that services meet the needs of the suicide bereaved and perhaps just as importantly will also assist service providers to develop their bereavement services into the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the National Office for Suicide Prevention, Console and Turas Le Cheile for their time and expertise in developing this valuable resource.

In a similar way the Suicide Prevention in the Community Guide will be a valuable asset for those communities who often struggle in the aftermath of a suicide in the local area.

The Guide, the first of its kind in Ireland contains useful and practical advice on how best to set up a community response group to support a grieving community and also try to prevent further suicides in the area. The ultimate aim of the guide is to make sure that responses to suicide are well-informed, well co-ordinated and safe.

I would like to congratulate Mike Rainsford and Mary O’Sullivan, both for their foresight in identifying the need for such a guide and for their hard work in producing a one stop publication where all the key information is available.

The introduction of a Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Awareness Training Programme for Service Providers caring for Older Persons is also a very welcome resource.

We all too often associate suicides with younger people, however this is not always the case and we know that suicides occur across all age groups. Our mental health and suicide prevention strategies – ‘A Vision for Change’ and ‘Reach Out’ both highlight the need for mental health promotion and suicide awareness training initiatives to be targeted across the life span.

Research has shown that depression is the most common psychiatric disorder and the single most important risk factor for suicide among the older population. Depression can be triggered by issues such as the loss of a spouse, the loss of independence, lonliness or the feeling of social isolation.

This programme will improve the confidence and knowledge of all carers working with older people, perhaps most importantly in recognising the warning signs of depression and as such enabling them to adopt the proper approach to respond appropriately to dealing with that episode of depression.

I understand Phase One of the Programme is to be piloted in the Mid Western Region and then rolled out nationally in due course and I wish the organisers and participants every success.

There is not a community in Ireland that has not been affected by the trauma and despair that surrounds suicide. I recognise the many challenges that lie ahead and I am aware that there are no easy interventions that will guarantee success.

However, I am heartened when I see the excellent collaboration between the various organisations and individuals who have worked closely together to produce these excellent resources which, I am sure, will make a difference to many individuals, communities and service providers.

I can assure everyone here today that I too am totally committed to tackling the high incidence of suicide in this country and to working with the HSE and voluntary organisations in whatever way necessary in not only reducing the number of suicides in Ireland but also in helping local communities in coming to terms with a suicide in their area.

Thank you.