Suicide prevention strategy considers lifestyle and religion in preventing suicide and self-harm

Fine Gael TD for Limerick and founder of the Irish Suicidology Association, Dan Neville, has welcomed the launch of the Government’s suicide strategy, ‘Connecting for Life’ – Ireland’s Suicide Prevention Strategy 2015-2020.

“Connecting for Life’ launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny highlights the importance of lifestyle choices and it also discusses the value of religion in preventing suicide.

“Despite the economic recession, this Government has prioritised the provision of mental health services with an investment of €135 million, but we know that providing services alone is not enough.

“The document launched today is ambitious and it is comprehensive but there are two aspects in particular which I believe will make a significant difference in combatting stigma and preventing poor mental health.

“The new suicide prevention strategy looks at the importance of lifestyle practise in coping with stress. Emotional stability and a well-developed sense of self, help to cope with stress. It is therefore essential that we do everything possible, in all areas of society, to equip our young people with these tools.

“Stigma around mental ill-health is a major issue, especially for males. Providing emotional stability and ensuring that men have the confidence to speak about how they feel is vital. Regular exercise, sleeping well and a good diet promote mental and physical health, again reinforcing the importance of achieving a Healthy Ireland.

“Connecting for Life’ also looks at the impact of religion on promoting mental health. It found that religious influences can be positive and negative. In some cases people feel they can’t speak about suicidal thoughts due to their religion but in other cases religion can have a positive impact in bringing people together. This is the aspect with the most potential to make a difference.

“In the past, Ireland had much lower suicide rates. This coincided with the time when most people were regular church goers.

“At the core of this strategy is the idea of connecting with other people, talking to people to see how they are. Whether it be through sport or through the Church, these are simple but extremely important ways of connecting.

“This strategy involves the whole of the government and the whole of society. It is this Government’s ambition to reduce suicide and self-harm by 10 per cent over the next five years. Connect for Life sets out to strengthen the service and the quality-of-service but also to strengthen the social ties and this is where, I believe, we will see real results.”