Thursday 27 July 2017

Farmers, middle-aged targeted in five-year suicide prevention plan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister Kathleen Lynch and Dr Shekhar Saxena from the World Health Organisation in Farmleigh House yesterday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister Kathleen Lynch and Dr Shekhar Saxena from the World Health Organisation in Farmleigh House yesterday
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

People who may be working in isolation such as farmers and vets are among the groups shortlisted to be specially targeted in a new five-year suicide prevention strategy.

The new blueprint "Connecting for Life" points to a list of priority groups who are particularly vulnerable to suicide risk.

Others include people who have existing mental health problems and those who have engaged in self harm or have drink or drug issues.

Social Care Minister Kathleen Lynch said the strategy would also prioritise minority groups such as the gay community, Travellers and the homeless as well as survivors of abuse.

Another group for interventions are middle-aged men and women, young people and those who are in difficult financial circumstances.

Speaking at the launch, she said overall the aim is to reduce the rate of suicide by 10pc over the next five years.

"However, the notion that it is strictly a matter for the health service is ridiculous," she said.

It will aim to draw in several other government departments including Education and Justice.

"We must be convinced that death by suicide is avoidable."

Earlier Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned that cyber-bullying is destroying people's happiness and lives. For some the "virtual world" had become a form of "virtual torture", he said.

The strategy was launched without any pledge of additional funding. It plans to maximise existing funding instead.

The report highlights a rise in the suicide rate bewteen 2007 and 2011. However, overall deaths by suicide went down from 541 to 459 last year.

In 2010 Ireland had the 11th lowest rate of 31 countries.

However, the rates among young men and women are relatively high internationally.

The blueprint promises a range of measures including:

  • more classes for schoolchildren to help them develop coping skills;
  • round-the-clock crisis intervention for people contacting mental health services;
  • increasing the number of nurses who have been trained in mental health in A&Es.

Commenting on the strategy, Mental Health Reform said it is concerned at the lack of a timeframe for promised actions. This is necessary to track those actions falling behind schedule, said director Shari McDaid.

Fianna Fáil mental health spokesman Deputy Colm Keaveney said it is massively under-funded. It is more about presentation than any real improvements in mental health services at a time when waiting lists are rising, he added.

Irish Independent

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