Wednesday, 19th September 2018
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Suicide - Public Health Emergency

Jason Murphy Fianna Fail "Suicide - Public Health Emergency"

Jason Murphy, Fianna Fail Area Representative, has welcomed the publication of a new FF policy document on suicide prevention, entitled Actions Speak Louder than Words: A Structural Approach to a Societal Issue.

The policy, which has been written by Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Senator Marc MacSharry, sets out a number of ambitious reforms that should be undertaken to radically change the approach of the government and health service to mental health issues and aims to reduce the incidence of suicide in Ireland by 30% over 10 years.

Jason Murphy stated "We are living in an era where suicide is occurring at an unprecedented level. To put it bluntly, this is a public health emergency."

Figures from the CSO show 525 people died by suicide in 2011, up 7% on the previous year with men accounting for 84% of cases. "It is clear that the approach that has been taken to date in tackling suicide is not working’’ he added.Clear reforms are necessary to tackle the unprecedented increase in Suicide and self harm in our society.

"The number of Suicide Prevention Resource Officers needs to be dramatically increased; a new national policy on suicide needs to be implemented with specific targets and deadlines to reduce suicide by 30% within ten years" he added.

The research process undertaken before publication of this document included consultation with those least accounted for in pre-existing research including Secondary Schools, Gardai, Community Centres, Youth Clubs, Suicide Prevention Organisations, Counsellors and Psychotherapists, other related interest groups, individuals and stakeholders in addition to a review of existing policies in Ireland and other countries.

Among the proposals contained in Actions Speak Louder than Words: A Structural Approach to a Societal Issue are:

- An NOSP 24 hour hotline to be established, staffed by trained professionals

- Adequately Resource all GPs to provide comprehensive help to individuals at risk of dying by suicide

- Implement a system of GP practice whereby the prescription of antidepressant medication has to be reviewed on a monthly basis

- Establish out-of-hours emergency social worker teams

- Reverse the Government’s decision to abolish dedicated Guidance Counselling in Secondary Schools

- Introduce SPHE into the Senior-Cycle in Secondary Schools

- Extend the provision of Guidance Counselling to Primary Schools

- Regulation of Counsellors and Psychotherapists via mandatory registration to a statutory body for Psychological Therapy

- 7.5% Levy on Sale of all alcohol off-sales

- Implore all forms of media to take a more responsible role in the coverage of suicide.

Jason Murphy added "it is heartbreaking to see families being shattered by the loss of a loved one to suicide. Depression, self-harm, substance abuse can all be overcome with the right supports in place and a fresh political approach."

The legislature must provide the correct structure and resources to those engaged in suicide prevention if they are to succeed in peeling back the blindfold on the phenomenon of loss of life through suicide in our society.

"There are no quick fixes or easy solutions to dealing with mental health issues and suicide but the scale of our response must match the scale of the problem. We have a long way to go to achieve that but I believe this document sets out a clear, effective and fresh policy approach."

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