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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Topical issue debate - suicide prevention.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Topical issue debate - suicide prevention. (10 Jul 2019)

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Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: In the past few weeks, and indeed years, there has been a surge of suicides in the Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard area, in particular, but also across the State as a whole. There have been more than 20 deaths by suicide, at least, in the Cherry Orchard and Ballyfermot area. Grieving communities and families who are distraught are left behind after those deaths. They are reaching out and crying out for support to help stop this epidemic. Another three young women died in the past fortnight or so. People in those communities are asking the questions we all do. How can we help? How can we stop this happening? What is causing it? Why is it that in this area in particular there is a different profile for those who have died by suicide compared to that in other areas? More than half of those who have died by suicide have been young women. They are often women with children and they are dying violent deaths

I appeal to the Minister of State, and in particular to his colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, who has special responsibility for mental health, as well as to his other colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, who lives in the constituency to which I am referring and knows the community, or should know the community. She has responsibility for the drugs services. We need the immediate setting up of a multi-agency task force. It does not have to be a new task force. The existing drugs task force can be utilised. It needs to be resourced and funded, however. That task force needs to be able to deliver the services it is trying and struggling to deliver.


I refer to the services delivered by Ballyfermot STAR and FamiliBase in particular. Those organisations have reached out well beyond their resources to try to help with issues connected with drugs and, in this case, with suicide. Regrettably, many of those who have died by suicide are addicted to or dabbling in drugs. Some of those people have been linked to services such as Ballyfermot STAR and FamiliBase, but those organisations are grappling against the odds. They have the support of other agencies in the area but they do not have the resources to provide a full community-led response. They also do not have the resources to provide a full 24-hour service in the area or to tackle the increase in polydrug use, the re-emergence of cocaine and, scarily, the use of crack cocaine in the community. All of those addictions are feeding into this epidemic. This is not just about polydrug use or drug use because other factors play a role in the tragic decisions that these young people have taken.


The community is scarred, in mourning and reaching out. There are some simple things that can be done. It is not all about money; it is about access to resources and trying to ensure that we address this as a society but also as a community and from the bottom up. SafeTALK and STORM training should be rolled out in as many schools and sports clubs to as many people as possible. That is so we can help and play our role in identifying people in distress, assist them and, hopefully, help to prevent them from taking tragic decisions similar to those that have affected our community in recent weeks. 


Deputy Andrew Doyle: The Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, has asked me to convey his sincere apologies that he could not take this Topical Issue matter as he is currently on official Government business in Finland. Before I read out the prepared note, this is an issue in which I have a personal interest. I think the Deputy knows that. When I read out the note, therefore, I agree with what is being stated and I am not just reading. It is important that I state that on a personal level. It is not the case that because we are in separate Departments that we do not have empathy with issues such as this…. 

[To read the full debate, click here]

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