Report: Suicide prevention plan largely ignored

Only a fifth of recommendations from a major suicide prevention plan have been properly acted on three years after it was first published, it emerged today.

The report – The High Level of Suicide in Irish Society – was launched in July 2006 by the Oireachtas Health Committee with 33 actions aimed at tackling the country’s high suicide levels.

But a review found work has been carried out on just seven, with limited or no progress made on the rest by the agencies responsible, including the Department of Health, HSE and gardaí.

Sean O’Fearghail, health committee chairman, branded the damning findings disappointing.

“With research indicating that levels of suicide increase in times of recession and because Ireland lies fifth in Europe for rates of youth suicide... the slow progress on implementing suicide prevention measures is disappointing,” he said.

Some 460 people died by suicide in Ireland in 2007, up almost 50 on the previous year.

Four times more men take their own life here than in the UK, with men aged less than 35 accounting for 40% of all suicides.

The 2006 study called for a range of actions, including the recruitment of suicide prevention officers, the development of suicide prevention training programmes for teachers, gardaí and other care staff and the co-ordination of support agencies.

It also called for more support to be provided to marginalised groups in society.

Glen (the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) welcomed the report and said more needed to be done.

Odhran Allen, Director of Mental Health Strategy at GLEN, said: “Increasingly, the mental health challenges facing LGBT people in Ireland are being acknowledged publicly, and we welcome the visibility given by the Joint Committee to LGBT mental health issues.”

Mr O’Fearghail said more resources also had to be put into suicide prevention programmes.

The report found 10 times more funding is given to preventing road deaths than suicides yet more people die by suicide that traffic accidents.

The report was carried out by the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on the High Level of Suicide in Irish Society, chaired by Fine Gael TD Dan Neville.

“This report again outlines that not enough resources and expertise have been harnessed to introduce the essential programmes to deal with this serious public health industry,” Mr Neville said.

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