I wish to deal with the issue of mental health services, particularly in County Louth. I am looking to draw attention to two particular cases. There has long been a belief among the population of Dundalk and County Louth that we do not have a mental health service that is fit for purpose.
Ian Browne was 25 years old when he died by suicide on Thursday, 14 March 2019. On Tuesday, 12 March, Ian spoke to his counsellor, who referred him to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital's emergency department so he could get the equivalent of a doctor's note and be brought into the psychiatric service in Crosslanes. He presented himself to the service in Crosslanes and was assessed. I am told a document of between 12 and 14 pages was written up. He was told he would not be seen; he told them he was suicidal. He said he had taken sleeping tablets. He got a dual diagnosis, which was a problem. He came back up the next day with a doctor's note and again was told to go away. It was three weeks before he was dealt with. The end result was that he was sent away with leaflets for another place where he could go for treatment that was not a State service. He just felt like there was no one there for him.
On Saturday, we had an event organised on the basis of a similar issue we had with Harry Taaffe. Harry presented himself to the service in Crosslanes, told them he was suicidal and was sent home with medication. I accept that hospitalisation is not always what is necessary, but he was told community care would not be available to him for four to six weeks. The following Sunday, Harry killed himself.
We have had a number of these issues. We need to check what the protocols are and whatever other resources are required so the people of Dundalk have a better service than we have at the moment.