Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry has urged the government to drastically increase its budgetary spend on suicide prevention. Citing the National Office for Suicide Prevention’s Annual Report released last week, he deemed the current approach to preventing the loss of life through suicide as “dangerously unacceptable”.

“In Dublin tomorrow Console are hosting the World Suicide Prevention Day Conference, a fantastic and timely initiative from one of the truly indispensable groups who offer vital and necessary services to people of all ages in need”, MacSharry said.

“Is it right, however, that we as a country are so reliant on charities to provide this line of defence, whose operations receive much too little by way of government funding, and instead are dependent on the good will of donations? I don’t think the government would be so complacent if our ambulances could not afford petrol to call out to a stroke patient.

“Despite the suggestion that rates have in some way stabilised statistics confirm what we all know, the current approach is doing much too little. Politicians need to wake up, resource the plan and professionals that can offer real solutions. Ireland has the fourth worst rate of suicide for young males in all of Europe, and across the board we lag unacceptably behind our British neighbours.

“Word Suicide Prevention Day takes place again this Tuesday September 10th; we can no longer sit idly by and expect a handful of individuals to stem the rate of tragic loss of life. The National Office for Suicide Prevention needs to be restructured, expanded and appropriately resourced. The number of Regional Officers for suicide prevention must be increased to a level that can adequately reach all corners of the country. Out of hours social worker clinics must be set up, and as for schools, any attempt to help children without returning the dedicated hours of the guidance counsellor is purely lip-service.”

Mac Sharry did accept that these proposed measures would cost money, but added “when we consider the cost of suicide to Ireland is close to a billion euro, the real question is how can we afford not to invest in these measures?” Mac Sharry cited his paper ‘Actions Speak Louder than Words’, the Fianna Fail policy on Suicide Prevention which was universally welcomed last March, including by Minister Lynch.

“This policy set out a plan and suggested a funding model to resource it which if implemented would reduce loss of life by suicide by 30% in just 10 years. Nothing has happened since. This is an abdication of our responsibilities as Irish Citizens. We can no longer ignore the silent crisis which ravages families and communities nationwide.”