Saturday 20 January 2018

Hollow promise to combat suicide

Sir -- I would like to thank the journalists Maeve Sheehan and Ronald Quinlan for the (albeit very disturbing) article headed 'Rise in suicides as money woes hit', which was published in the Sunday Independent on July 18, 2010. In January 1998 the then Minister for Health, Brian Cowen (our present Taoiseach) wrote the foreword to the 'Report of the National Task Force on Suicide', and I quote Mr Cowen's words, "I urge that the recommendations of the report be acted upon and implemented without unnecessary delay". Also under the heading 'Improving Social Conditions' in the same report: 'A variety of social conditions have been associated with suicide rate such as poverty, unemployment, marginalisation, particularly in groups such as people with mental disorders, learning disabilities or chronic diseases and victims of physical or sexual abuse. The Task Force believes that measures which may ameliorate social conditions for such groups would impact particularly on the suicide rate'.

Suicide has never known any boundaries regarding gender, age, race, skin colour, religion status etc when it decides to visit. The social conditions cited above from the 'The National Task Force on Suicide', under the heading of 'Improving Social Conditions', appear to be more ominous today when it comes to the alarming increase in suicide and attempted suicide. Surely if the work of the task force had been taken seriously in 1998 onward by Government, it would have resulted in a decrease in suicide and attempted suicide today instead of a 25 per cent rise, bringing the total to a staggering 527 suicides last year.

Unfortunately many of us know too well what it is like to experience the negative effects of the recent harsh actions and indeed non-action, including cutbacks and pay cuts by our present Government ironically now led now by Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Why is it that no one in Government appears to be accountable in certain matters which cost the taxpayers dearly in many ways?

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