Neville calls for targeted spending on suicide prevention on World Mental Health Day

Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Dan Neville, has called for €3 million of Government spending to be specifically focussed on suicide prevention. Deputy Neville, who is President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, was speaking today (Monday) on World Mental Health Day.

“The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘investing in mental health’, which seems apt considering that the World Health Organisation estimates that spending on mental health is ‘inadequate especially in low resource countries’.

“Mental ill-health is not only damaging to the sufferer, their family and community, it is also damaging to the economy. The Mental Health Commission estimates that the direct annual cost of mental health was a staggering €3 billion in 2006. This is a direct cost to the taxpayer as a result of decades of Government inaction.

“A Vision for Change, which was adopted by the then-Government in 2006, outlines the basis for the development of mental health services in Ireland. The policy framework was greeted by near universal approval as the best model for a modern, comprehensive, world-class service to meet the mental health challenges facing our society.

“However the previous Government failed to turn words into action. A lack of national leadership means stigma continues to be a serious major issue for many people with mental health problems. The proportion of the health expenditure allocated to mental health at 5.3% remains low by international standards.

“The present Government has committed to ring fence €35 million annually to implement the recommendations contained in A Vision for Change. I believe that it is important that at least €3 million of this money be allocated to the National Office for Suicide Prevention. In 2010, 600 people died by suicide and more than 70,000 others attempted suicide or self harmed. Reducing this number will require financial support, as well as an open and honest national discussion.”