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HSE Reports Reveal Stabilisation In Suicidal Behaviour

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In advance of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th 2013, Minister for State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People; Kathleen Lynch, today launched three reports on suicide and self-harm. The reports were launched at an event in the Department of Health which showcased the work underway by a range of organisations and community groups in the area of suicide prevention.  

The reports published today are;

  • National Office for Suicide Prevention Annual Report 2012
  • National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm Annual Report 2012
  • The Second Report of the Suicide Support and Information System

Minister Kathleen Lynch commented “Deaths by suicide are a concern to all of us.  We have all been made aware of suicide at some stage in our lives, whether it was a family member, friend, or a member of our community.  The challenge of reducing suicide rates demands a very comprehensive   and   multi-layered response, with interventions at different levels, and involving a range of stakeholders.  I would like to  acknowledge  the  tremendous  work  being  carried  out by the many individuals, voluntary and statutory agencies in providing services for those  who  may be experiencing a personal crisis or those who may have lost a loved one to suicide.  It is important that we work together and link our resources in an effort to tackle this serious issue and create an  environment  that  is  enabling rather than disabling for people in distress and where professionals, service users and carers can all work together to utilise resources and assist people in their own recovery”.

The HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) leads the national implementation of ‘Reach Out’, the Government strategy for suicide prevention. The NOSP plays a pivotal role in funding, coordinating and giving strategic direction to the work of over 40 agencies from the voluntary, statutory and non-statutory sector working to promote positive mental health and reduce suicide and self-harm in Ireland. The NOSP budget for 2013 is €7.9m and the office has already committed €5.2m in 2013.In 2012 the NOSP invested €3.45 million in suicide prevention services and programmes across the voluntary and statutory sector, which was an increase of 17% on 2011.  In 2012, Mr. Gerry Raleigh was appointed as Director of the NOSP and further increases in staffing have occurred in 2013.

The key achievements set out in the NOSP’s Annual Report for 2012 include:

  • Development of a national online education programme on suicide prevention for GPs
  • Evaluation of a self-harm training programme for frontline staff working in Emergency Departments
  • Delivery of mental health promotion programmes across a range of settings including workplaces, third level institutions, prisons, schools and sporting organisations
  • Completion of the National Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills
  • Dissemination of ‘Suicide Prevention in the Community A Practical Guide’ to communities nationwide
  • Continued investment in health education campaigns such as “Let Someone Know” and “Your Mental Health” that promote positive mental health and the importance of talking and listening.
  • Continued investment in training programmes including, Safetalk and Assist, to prevent suicide and self-harm.

Gerry Raleigh, Director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention, commented: “In 2013 we will build on the work that has been carried out in the national office, and that is delivered in local communities around the country. The National Office for Suicide Prevention will continue to coordinate and support the ongoing efforts being made in communities around the country to reduce suicide in Ireland.

We will work together to continue to implement evidence based approaches to suicide prevention delivered at a local community level. 2013 will see a focus on improving service integration and coordination and implementing standards for the suicide prevention sector.”

The National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) published its Annual Report of the National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm today and the Second Report of the Suicide Support and Information System. The two reports by the NSRF underline the importance of real-time information systems for self-harm and suicide so that health services and communities can more quickly identify changes in risk factors and clusters of self-harm or suicide and plan services and appropriate responses accordingly.

Professor Ella Arensman, Director of Research of the NSRF, stated that; ‘The latest confirmed figures for suicide by the CSO for 2010 indicate that suicide rates in Ireland may be stabilising. The highest suicide rates continue to be among young and middle aged men.

In 2012 the Self-harm Registry recorded 12,010 deliberate self-harm presentations to hospital. This is a 2% reduction from 2011 and represents a decease in the national levels of self harm for the second year in a row (the decrease in 2010 was 4%).”

The Second Report of the Suicide Support and Information System (SSIS) records information on all consecutives cases of suicide in Cork City and County. Among the 307 cases recorded by the SSIS, differences were identified between subgroups of people who had died by suicide in terms of risk factors. Men who had worked in the construction industry were shown to be at a significant risk of suicide. In addition, alcohol misuse continues to play a significant impact in self-harm and suicide in Ireland. Specific risk factors associated with suicide among men under 40 were; unemployment (39.5%), drug abuse (29.4%) and history of non-fatal self-harm (31.3%). Risk factors more strongly associated with suicide among men aged over 40 included history of alcohol abuse (76.5%), physical illness (38.3%) and diagnosis of depression (31.5%).

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