Deputy Marc MacSharry says the Government must do more to curb high suicide and self-harm rates

Fianna Fáil TD Marc Mac Sharry says the Government’s approach to mental health is falling well short of what’s needed to effectively address the issue.  The latest statistics from the HSE’s Office of Suicide Prevention found that there were 399 suicides in 2016.  The figures also reveal that over 8,900 people who had self-harmed attended hospital last year.

Deputy Mac Sharry commented, “While I welcome the slight drop in the suicide figures for last year, this should not give the Government a pass to sit back and think that its policy on mental health is working.  It’s not.  The numbers of people, particularly women in their 20s, who are self-harming, is on the rise, and there are serious problems in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

“The HSE Office of Suicide Prevention says more than €11.8 million was invested in suicide prevention in 2016.  This is not near enough.  If this Government is serious about mental health and suicide prevention it needs to commit more funding and resources to these areas.  When the Government set its mind to tackling the issue of road deaths, it assigned additional funding to the Road Safety Authority to reduce fatalities.  It is not addressing the issue of mental health and suicide with the same tenacity, and this is extremely disappointing.

“The 2006 blueprint for mental health services, A Vision for Change, has still not been fully implemented, with many of the key recommendations outstanding.  We are all well aware of the serious issues within our mental health services – long waiting lists for access to appointments, serious gaps in staffing levels and serious deficiencies in the Child and Adolescent services.

“We need to see a greater commitment from this Government to improve these services.  Increases in staffing levels, additional funding and a more integrated approach to the provision of services must be made a priority if the promise of prioritising mental health is to become a reality”.

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