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Suicide Prevention Group Pleads For Funds Not To Be Cut

The IrisIASh Association of Suicidology (IAS) has pleaded with the government to remain true to pre-election promises and not cut vital funding earmarked for aiding the constant battle against suicide in Ireland. The organisation fears that, should next week’s budget include a cut in support, many lives could be placed in danger.

Dr John Connolly, IAS honorary secretary, elucidated the group’s concerns in a letter sent to an Taoiseach Enda Kenny. In the document he notes how the recession and subsequent unemployment has played its part in increasing the suicide rate in this country, stating: “Over the last three years the number of people who have decided to end their own life by suicide has risen dramatically.” Dr Connolly went on to note that the 2011 Programme for Government includes a provision to “ring-fence €35 million annually from within the health budget” for mental health issues, part of which was due to be used to implement the national suicide prevention strategy – Reach Out. He called for the Fine Gael-Labour coalition to ensure this pledge comes to fruition.

He added: “While the Irish people have borne the brunt of austerity measures over the last three years, the impact of these measures on those most vulnerable and at risk of suicide has been reflected in the increase in the number of suicides, deliberate self-harm presentation at A&E and in calls to support help-lines such as the Samaritans.”

Mr Kenny, a vocal supporter of mental health awareness and suicide prevention, has not yet responded to the letter.

Official figures from 2009 show that a total of 527 people were confirmed as dying as a result of suicide that year, up 15% from 2007. However, due to the lengthy wait for coroners’ court verdicts and the mislabelling of other deaths, the genuine figure is believed to be far higher.

The area of suicide prevention was thrust into the spotlight again this week following the tragic and shocking death of Welsh football manager Gary Speed. Waves of disbelief spread throughout the world of sport when his body was discovered early last Sunday morning. Mr Speed had appeared in jovial mood on the BBC’s ‘Football Focus’ TV show mere hours before taking his own life. On the same day, an article was published in The Irish Times discussing Kate Fitzgerald – a 25-year-old woman who committed suicide shortly after submitting an anonymous article to the paper documenting her struggle with depression. At her suggestion, the piece was published on 9 September – the day before World Suicide Prevention Day. Sadly, by this time its writer had killed herself over two weeks previously.

Earlier today, the suicide counselling service Console revealed that over 7,000 adullts traumatised by suicide approached the organisation for help in the first six months of 2011 alone.

A number of support outlets are available for those suffering from depression and other mental health issues as well as for loved ones who wish to support them. Please reach out if you need to – help is available.

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