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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999

Vol. 507 No. 3

Written Answers. - Suicide Incidence.

Liam Lawlor


142 Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will establish a national forum on suicide in view of figures showing 504 people taking their lives in 1998 representing an increase from the previous year of 15 per cent, with young men representing 84 per cent of suicides. [16839/99]

In response to the increased numbers of reported suicide and attempted suicide in Ireland a national task force on suicide was established in 1995 to make recommendations to service providers about how the problem of suicide and attempted suicide could effectively be addressed. The task force comprised individuals from a wide range of backgrounds from the voluntary and statutory sector. The report of the task force, which was published in 1998, marked the culmination of detailed examination of the incidence of suicide and attempted suicide in Ireland and outlined a comprehensive national suicide prevention-reduction strategy and identified the various authorities with jurisdiction in suicide prevention strategies and their respective responsibilities.

Implementation of the national suicide prevention-reduction strategy commenced shortly after publication of the report with a partnership approach adopted between statutory and non-statutory services. I wish to assure the Deputy that this partnership approach continues to operate effectively, drawing from many disciplines in both the voluntary and statutory sector, in implementing the recommendations of the report.

The establishment of a suicide research group in 1998 by the chief executive officers of the health boards is central to the strategy to prevent and reduce suicide and attempted suicide. Membership of the group includes experts in the areas of mental health, public health and research. The main responsibilities of the group are to review ongoing trends in suicide and parasuicide, to co-ordinate research into suicide and to make appropriate recommendations to the chief executive officers of the health boards. To date, the group's research-review has covered a range of data including: current Central Statistics Office figures relating to the incidence of suicide; the latest research material available on suicide; the new gardaí report forms (Form 104) submitted to the Central Statistics Office in cases of suicide; and the work of the newly established suicide committees and co-ordinators-resource persons appointed in each health board area.

At an early stage in its deliberations, the group recognised the need for research-resource support to assist it in carrying out the tasks recommended in the report of the national task force on suicide. Funds have been provided for this purpose and formal approval for the creation of a research-resource officer post has been issued. It is envisaged that the post holder will be involved in the collation of all existing research material, both national and international and making it available to the committee. The appointee will also examine the effectiveness of intervention programmes and will liaise with local co-ordinators in each of the health boards.