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Home > Review of progress in addressing suicide in Ireland.

Mongan, Deirdre (2009) Review of progress in addressing suicide in Ireland. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 31, Autumn 2009 , p. 22.

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A Joint Oireachtas sub-committee was established in 2005 to examine in detail the issue of suicide in Irish society; to engage with those who work in suicide prevention; and to hear evidence from those involved in post-suicide counselling and support. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is among the three leading causes of death worldwide among people in the 15–44-year-old age bracket. In 2004, there were 27.1 deaths/100,000 population among men in Ireland, compared to 6.1 in England. For females the rate was 2.9/100,000 population, compared to 1.7 in England. Youth suicide rates in Ireland are the fifth highest in the European Union.     

The sub-committee’s report, The high level of suicide in Irish society, was published in 20061 and accepted for implementation. It provided detailed information on the extent of suicide in Ireland and made 33 specific recommendations on how to address the problem. An updated report by a new sub-committee, published in June 2009,2 reviewed the extent to which these recommendations have been implemented, and identified the obstacles that have prevented their implementation.    
Very limited or no substantial progress was reported on implementing those recommendations dealing with the building of evidence around suicide through research and information gathering. These recommendations include agreement on a national programme of research into self-harm, suicide and suicide prevention and the publishing of suicide research guidelines for donors providing funding. 
Similarly little progress was reported regarding recommendations on making more information available to people at risk of suicide, to the general population, to specific groups such as school children, and to groups and individuals who could play a role in suicide prevention such as teachers, voluntary organizations, primary care teams and mental health staff. However, there was some progress in the organisation of consultation with young people and in the provision of information by primary care services to those bereaved by suicide. 
More progress was achieved in the development of services such as a pilot fast-track referral systems from primary care to mental health services for suicidal individuals and the development of a service plan for bereavement services. Other recommended services, including a coordinated response from various voluntary agencies working in the area of suicide bereavement support and a standardized pre-discharge and transfer between mental health services, have not been developed.
It appears that many of the recommendations outlined in 2006 have not been progressed at all. In addition, the few recommendations that have been completed or mostly completed now need financial resources and political drive in order to develop and implement their findings. The report concludes that immediate change is required to properly address the ongoing serious problem of suicide in Ireland. The National Office for Suicide Prevention needs adequate and sustained funding, a higher level of interagency collaboration, and the requisite political support if it is to have any chance of fully implementing the recommendations made in the 2006 Oireachtas report. 
1. Joint Committee on Health and Children (7th Report) (2006) The high level of suicide in Irish society. Dublin: Houses of the Oireachtas.
2. Joint Committee on Health and Children (2009) The high level of suicide in Irish society. First report. Dublin: Houses of the Oireachtas.
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 31, Autumn 2009
October 2009
Page Range
p. 22
Health Research Board
Issue 31, Autumn 2009
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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