Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (316)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

317 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to address the increase in the level of suicides in Ireland, by 7% in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35539/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

Dealing with the current high levels of suicide and deliberate self harm is a priority for this Government. Suicide is a tragedy that we are constantly working to prevent and also working to give more support to the families affected. Reach Out our National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention sets out a series of specific actions and calls for a multi-sectoral approach to the prevention of suicidal behaviour in order to foster cooperation between health, education, community, voluntary and private sector agencies. There are up to 20 voluntary organisations part-funded by the HSE who are providing excellent prevention, intervention and post-intervention support services including phone help-lines and web based support.

The National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) is implementing the Reach Out Actions in a four way strategy — delivering a general population approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention; using targeted programmes for people at high risk of suicide; delivering services to individuals who have engaged in deliberate self harm and providing support to families and communities bereaved by suicide. The annual budget for this work has been increased by this Government to over €12 million.

A wide range of awareness and training programmes are also available including safeTALK and ASIST which trains participants to become more alert to the possibility of suicide in their community. NOSP has also piloted a system of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses working with Emergency Departments and GPs which will be rolled out nationally this year.

The special allocation of €35m for mental health which was announced in Budget 2012 will be used primarily to further strengthen Community Mental Health Teams in both Adult and Children's mental health services and to initiate the provision of psychological and counselling services in primary care, specifically for people with mental health problems.