All-Ireland mental health and suicide strategy is essential – Adams

Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Joanna Byrne & Pearse McGeough with Gerry Adams TD at the Tree of Hope

Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Joanna Byrne & Pearse McGeough with Gerry Adams TD at the Tree of Hope

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today planted ‘A Tree of Hope’ at the Muirhevnamor Community Centre in Dundalk in “remembrance of all of those who have died by suicide; those who have survived, including the bereaved families; and as evidence of our collective determination to encourage the allocation of more resources to tackle suicide.”

The event was organised by the Muirhevnamor Community Council. The Louth TD thanked the Council for organising the tree planting and all of those groups and individuals who provide services for those at risk of suicide and self-harm. He also welcomed the announcement at the weekend by the Sinn Féin Health Minister in the North, Michelle O’Neill MLA, to launch a consultation on Protect Life 2 – a strategy for suicide prevention in that part of the island.

Teachta Adams said:

“I want to welcome Minister O’Neill’s initiative. This is an important effort to meet the challenge of suicide. The Minister for Health in this state also needs to review the current mental health and suicide strategies.

Gerry Adams TD with SOSAD volunteer

Gerry Adams TD with SOSAD volunteer

I believe that only through joined up mental health and suicide strategies on this island can we effectively tackle these difficult issues. A mark of Sinn Féin’s commitment on this issue is that our Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald insisted on taking up this brief.

The 2017 Budget is due for publication in early October. This will be the real test of the government’s commitment to mental health services. There has to be greater investment in mental health programmes, including 24 seven access to services for people who need it.

Later this month as a contribution to this Sinn Fein will be holding a conference in Dublin on dual diagnosis. Sinn Féin will also be training our staff in suicide prevention practices.

The sad reality is that there is not a single family on this island that has not been affected by the challenge of mental health issues. Linked to this is the issue of suicide. It is now believed that the real figure for suicide across the island of Ireland is as high as 1,000 people annually.

The emotional impact on families and communities is huge. Many are left wondering why someone decides to take their life and if they could have prevented it.

In the aftermath of a suicide, especially of a young person, the potential of others also taking their own lives is high.

I remember visiting the wake homes of four young victims from the Upper Springfield area in west Belfast who had all died from suicide within days of each other.

There is no single or easy explanation for someone deciding to take their life. In my experience the reasons can be many; mental health problems, loneliness, alcohol and substance misuse, an absence of hope for the future, can all contribute to suicide. There is also a clear and direct correlation between deprivation and suicide.

In every statistical analysis that I have read areas of high unemployment and deprivation suffer greater levels of suicide. At the same time, suicide is no respecter of class or age or gender.

In addition this state has the fourth highest rate of suicide among teenagers within the European Union. The Psychological Society of Ireland called last week for a greater focus on the threat of suicide among teens. This requires the introduction of preventative strategies to tackle mental health issues among young people. Intervention at an early stage  is much better than trying to deal with the aftermath of a suicide.

Critically, an all-island suicide prevention strategy which coordinates mental health agencies on the island and manages resources more effectively is essential. Responsibility for this lies with the governments.

Committee of Muirhevna Mor Community Centre with Gerry Adams TD and SF Cllrs

Committee of Muirhevna Mor Community Centre with Gerry Adams TD & SF Cllrs & Community Garda

Note:

For further information on the suicide charities log on to suicideorsurvive.ie and pieta.ie

Samaritans also provides support via samaritans.org or by phone on 116 123

Adams hosts Suicide Prevention groups in the Dáil

DSC_3254_6510Gerry Adams invited Louth based SOSAD and Dublin’s Southwest Inner City Network into the Dáil last Wednesday 13th July Louth to brief Sinn Féin on the issue of suicide and mental health provision in their areas.

Gerry Adams said: “There is a need for greater support by government for suicide prevention groups and mental health services. SOSAD and the Dublin Southwest Inner City Network have been working on these issues for many years. Sinn Féin has prioritised mental health provision as a key area of work during this Dáil term and we will press the Government to adequately resource and address the gaps in provision in this sector.”

“The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD has recently been appointed Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health.  Mental health must not remain the Cinderella of the health service.”

“It is accepted that one in seven adults will experience mental health challenged during the course of any given year. “Suicide statistics across Ireland are frightening with 459 citizens in this State and approximately 300 in the North dying by suicide in 2014.  However, it is generally accepted that the real figure could be much higher with around 1,000 deaths annually.
“The Mental Health Commission’s annual report which recently reviewed the State’s mental Health policy ‘A Vision for Change’ highlighted significant concerns around lack of funding.  It is disgraceful that the 2005 target of 8.24% of the total Health Budget being allocated to mental health has still not been achieved.
“This lack of funding is compounded by a staffing crisis, with the Psychiatric Nurses Association stating that there are up to 700 vacant posts within the mental health services.
“At last week’s meeting we heard testimony from people bereaved by suicide and people who had suffered serious mental health issues.  I want to thank them for their willingness to tell their story.

“One common refrain through all of their accounts was the persistent issue of citizens at risk of suicide being discharged from A&E departments with no immediate care plan in place.  This is totally inadequate. The government and the HSE are failing vulnerable citizens.

Suicide and Mental Health – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD on Friday morning met Peter Moroney from SOSAD, the Suicide Awareness and Prevention group in Louth.

Teachta Adams commended “all of the countless suicide prevention support groups and all of those in our health service and related agencies that work hard every day of the week in seeking to reduce suicide.”

Gerry Adams said:

“According to the most recent statistics available for suicide in this state 459 persons – 368 males and 91 females – took their own lives in 2014. During the same period there were 62 undetermined deaths which in the north and in other countries are normally counted as suicide. At the same time around 300 citizens in the north die each year from suicide.

It is generally accepted that the real figure for suicide is higher and that as many as 1000 citizens die across this island each year by suicide.

The human cost of this on families and communities is devastating. The reality is that all sections and all generations of our society are affected, from the very young to the very old, and in rural and urban areas.

Self-harming is also a huge issue in Irish society today. Thousands are admitted to hospitals every year as a result of self-harm which in many cases go unreported.

 

Mental Health is an area that successive governments have failed to provide an adequate level of service. This is despite the fact that 644,000 people or one in seven adults have experienced mental health issues in the last year.

The funding allocated to mental health is insufficient. The framework documents, ‘A Vision for change’ proposed a mental health funding of 10% of the overall health budget. This has never been achieved.

Among our detailed proposals on mental health Sinn Féin would increase the mental health budget in year one by €35 million.

We would complete the rollout of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses. Only 24 of the 35 nurses approved for this programme had been recruited by mid 2015.

We would recruit mental health nurses, specifically to liaise with homeless services commencing with five in year one.

We would reverse cuts introduced by the government in 2012 to guidance counsellors.

And we would update the Mental Health Act and Criminal Law (insanity) Act to bring them into line with international best practice.

One significant contribution to tackling suicide and self-harm would be greater co-operation between the health services north and south. In particular the creation an all-Ireland Suicide Prevention Agency that would co-ordinate the work of all of those involved would bring immediate benefits.”