I have no plans to set up a separate suicide prevention authority. This function is currently being carried out by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) which was established in 2005 to oversee the implementation of the then national suicide prevention strategy and to co-ordinate suicide prevention initiatives around the country.
Earlier this year, the Government launched ‘Connecting for Life’, our new strategy to reduce suicide for the period 2015 – 2020. The new Strategy, which has an implementation focus on youth mental health, sets out a vision where fewer lives are lost through suicide, and where communities and individuals are empowered to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This includes a greater focus on the important area of support for families and communities in suicide prevention, and will include providing community-based organisations with guidelines, protocols and training on effective suicide prevention.
Connecting for Life provides a detailed and clear plan to achieve each of the goals it proposes, with defined actions and a lead agency and key partners in place for each individual objective. This plan will be supported by robust implementation and governance structures, as well as resourcing and communications frameworks. The Strategy assigns specific responsibility to the NOSP as a statutory agency to fulfil a number of tasks, including the development and implementation of surveillance systems, the implementation and evaluation of the Strategy, the development and provision of suicide prevention training and education programmes, increasing national awareness about suicide prevention and setting out a national suicide research and prevention programme. NOSP, together with the Department of Health, other Government Departments, NGO and community partners are proceeding with the implementation of Connecting for Life.
Funding for suicide prevention has increased significantly in recent years from €3.7 million in 2010 to the current level of €11.55 million, which includes an additional €2.75 million provided this year for additional Resource Officers for Suicide Prevention and for priority actions in Connecting for Life. I would like to assure the Deputy that dealing with the high levels of suicide and deliberate self harm is a priority for this Government, and this is reflected in the significant investment in suicide prevention and mental health services generally in recent years.