TD seeks suicide prevention authority

Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 01:00

INDEPENDENT TD Thomas Pringle has urged the Government to establish a suicide prevention authority.

He said other countries had established such an office and reduced the number of deaths by suicide. “Mental illness and suicide are major problems in our society,” he added. “There are three times more deaths by suicide than on the roads every year.”

Mr Pringle said some 700 people died by suicide every year, while 300,000 people suffered from mental illness.

“Surely this represents a crisis of national proportions,” he added. “The national office for suicide prevention is clearly limited and underfunded.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he agreed the level of suicide was very disturbing. The Government had decided to allocate a specific budget of €35 million for mental health services to address the issue. “However, it is not really a question of putting in place an authority or an office,” he added.

“Suicide is a problem that is not solvable simply by putting in place a State office or body to deal with the issue.” Mr Gilmore said that, instead, what must be done was to address the causes of suicide through the health service and more widely in society.

“We must ensure there are interventions at a personal level for people who are at risk,” he added. Mr Pringle said it was clear the €35 million had not been spent on mental illness initiatives and was not ringfenced.