Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming has called on the Government to immediately undertake a comprehensive study after it was revealed to him that there is no record of the number of people who have died by suicide having been in psychiatric units or hospitals immediately prior to their death.
Deputy Fleming said: “I was shocked to learn that some people, having been discharged from psychiatric units, unfortunately took their own lives shortly thereafter and there is no effort by the State to establish the extent of this problem. Minister Lynch’s reply to my Parliamentary Question on this issue is deeply worrying. This is an extremely serious matter which I equate to the deaths of children in care which the HSE similarly did not have information on up until quite recently.
“Aside from confirming that this information is not available Minister Lynch appears to be making no effort to rectify this situation.
“The Government should immediately direct the HSE to establish the exact number of people who have died in each year recently who, within the month prior to their death, were in the care of the State’s psychiatric services. I believe the number of people who have suffered from a psychiatric illness and subsequently died by suicide having been in contact with State services is extremely high. We need clarity and openness on this issue.
“Mental health is a major issue facing the country at the moment. It is essential that all the appropriate information is available on deaths of people with mental health issues in order to improve and adequately invest in mental health services in communities across the country. The fact that the number of deaths by suicide concerning people who were previously undergoing psychiatric care is not known is astonishing and must be addressed.”