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Monday 15 September 2014

Suicide group underspent its funding by a third

Geraldine Gittens

Published 08/11/2013 | 07:49

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A HSE group tasked with tackling Ireland’s suicide crisis underspent almost a third of its budget last year.

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The National Office of Suicide Prevention (NOSP) spent just €5.19 million of its €7m budget in 2012.

More than 100 people took their own lives in Ireland in the first three months of the year, according to the CSO.

The worrying 2013 numbers show males made up 85 per cent of those who took their own lives and 80pc of the deaths were among people between the ages of 15 and 54.

NOSP director Gerry Raleigh, who took up the role in NOSP late last year has admitted that the spending shortfall “was an issue when suicide was such a high-risk problem”.

Mr Raleigh told the Irish Medical News: “Perhaps the most significant reason was there were three different directors in the office in 2012, so there were leadership changes and, with that, slippage, in terms of plans and implementation.”

The director replaced HSE assistant national director for mental health Martin Rogan, who took over on a part-time basis after Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe left in September 2012.

The role could only be filled by an internal candidate due to the HSE’s recruitment embargo.

Dr O’Keeffe only held the post for three months, from July to September of last year. She had replaced the previous full-time director Geoff Day, who left the organisation due to a lack of resources and staff in 2011.

Irish Association of Suicidology president and Fine Gael TD Dan Neville said a full year had effectively been “neutralised” because of all the changes.

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