Suicide Levels for 2012 show no decrease

Funding for National Suicide Prevention Office should be increased

Fine Gael Limerick TD and President of the Irish Association Suicidology, Dan Neville, has called for the funding for the National Suicide Prevention Office (NSPO) to be increased. Deputy Neville has also warned that the true level of suicide deaths in Ireland is considerably higher than official figures suggest.

“Figures published by the CSO last week detailing the suicide rates for last year are extremely worrying. According to the CSO, 507 people died by suicide in 2012, the majority of whom were men. However, there were a further 82 undetermined deaths in 2012, which in other jurisdictions would be included in the official suicide statistics.

Official statistics can mask the true scale of the problem. As well as the undetermined deaths not included in the official figures, there are many unidentified suicides such as singular occupancy road deaths, which means that the real number of people who died by suicide last year could be in excess of 600. This should be of extreme concern to all who value life and understand the trauma experienced by those who felt there was no other way out of their crisis than to take their own lives.

“Suicide is a very complex issue, but we can easily identify two contributory factors; the neglect of the mental health services and the lack of suicide prevention programmes over the last few decades. Bearing in mind that up to 80% of those who die by suicide are suffering from a mental health difficulty, the historical neglect of mental health services is nothing short of scandalous.

“In the two most recent Budgets, the Government allocated €70 million towards the development of mental health services. It is vital that this allocation is spent as intended, by developing community based multidisciplinary psychiatric services. In 2012, 414 posts were allocated to mental health, of which 150 were to enhance Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health teams.

“Budget 2013 provided a further €35 million for development of Community Mental Health, with an additional 470 posts due to be recruited. I am concerned about the pace of recruitment; however I have been assured that it will commence in the immediate future.

“The National Suicide Prevention Office plays a key role in suicide prevention. The allocation of an extra €1million to its budget this year, which doubles its budget to €8 million in two years, is welcome. However, this level of funding to the office is inadequate and I would urge the Government to consider a minimum budget of €12 million immediately.”