I met recently with the representatives from the Turn the Tide of Suicide organisation and we had a very open and frank discussion around the area of suicide prevention.
Dealing with the current levels of suicide and deliberate self harm and reforming our mental health services in line with A Vision for Change are priorities for this Government. In this respect, a special allocation of €35m was announced in Budget 2012 for mental health which will be used primarily to further strengthen Community Mental Health Teams in both Adult and Children’s mental health services, advance implementation of Reach Out, our national strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention, and to initiate the provision of psychological and counselling services in primary care, specifically for people with mental health problems. All of these measures will assist in the Government's drive to deal with mental health and suicide.
Reach Out is a comprehensive and integrated approach to reducing the loss and suffering from suicide and suicidal behaviours. It encompasses the promotion, coordination, and support of activities to be implemented at national, regional and community levels. The HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of Reach Out. NOSP has implemented a significant number of the recommendations 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.
It is widely accepted that suicide is a complex issue and that there are no easy or single interventions that will bring a guarantee of success. International evidence shows that reducing the suicide rate and preventing suicides requires a collective, concerted effort from all groups in society. Solutions, therefore, involve the whole community, a large array of voluntary organisations, specialist mental health professionals and mental healthcare provided by general practitioners and others in primary care. The overall expenditure in time and resources in this area is significant and is always under constant review. I cannot accept that all of these efforts represent failure on the part of any of those involved.