04 February 2006

Young republicans in move to cut suicide rate


04/02/2006 - 16:21:00

Ogra Shinn Féin today called for an all-island approach to suicide awareness in a bid to reduce the alarming rate of deaths – the second highest in Europe.

With 577 people reported deaths by suicide in 2004, the youth wing of Sinn Féin said they were preparing to lobby the Irish and British governments to ensure that prevention policies receive the priority, funding and resources required.

Andrea O’Keane, Ogra Shinn Féin spokeswoman, said: “Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in Ireland therefore it is imperative that Ogra begin campaigning and disseminating information on this issue.

“Although statistics are strikingly high amongst young men, suicide transcends class, gender, and age, ethnic or religious background.”

Ms Keane said the campaign would focus on providing information, improving awareness and the demand for an all-Ireland approach.

Ireland has the second highest suicide rate in Europe with 577 reported deaths by suicide in 2004 – more than the number of people killed in road accidents - yet Government spend on mental health has fallen from 11% of Department of Health spending to 6.9% since 1997.

Young men are most at risk, in particular those living in areas of high social deprivation, and it is also estimated that every 45 minutes someone in Ireland attempts to die by suicide.

Sinn Féin is the latest party in the south to highlight the issue which hundreds of families have to deal with each year. Last May, Fine Gael launched a policy entitled urging people with mental problems or suffering from depression to speak to someone.

Addressing the Ogra Shinn Féin national conference, party president Gerry Adams said: “It is the biggest killer of young people in our country. That makes suicide a national disaster. Our country urgently needs a national plan to address this crisis.”

He went on: “Concern about suicide is greatest in local communities. Alongside the anguish of bereavement, there is a growing sense of burn-out.

“Families do not receive the support they need to cope with the strain of someone who is feeling suicidal, or with the aftermath of someone who takes his or her own life.

“Many other parents carry a sense of dread, worrying about the fate of their own children.”

Mr Adams added that he was awaiting a meeting with Tánaiste and health Minister Mary Harney to discuss possible ways of tackling suicide.

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