Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the latest Health Service Executive (HSE) report which suggests there was a drop in suicides in last year as welcome, but said the reduction is not being felt locally.

The Sinn Féin TD said that there doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without hearing the awful news that someone has died by suicide, with distraught family and friends left to cope.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) 2016 report says there were 399 suicides in 2016 compared with 451 in 2015. This is welcome, but we still have a significant problem in this country when it comes to self-harm and suicidal ideation.

“As a society we are slowly emerging from a very dark period in the last number of years, but austerity and its impact are unfortunately still with us.

“Mass emigration and unemployment may not be the issues that they were but their effects are still deeply felt and they contribute to the sense of hopelessness behind the high number of suicides in the last decade.

“Economic factors have improved on a superficial level but under-employment, poverty, and disadvantage remain with us, and all these factors contribute to despair and problems for mental health.

“The State has in recent years encouraged the proliferation of community and voluntary groups that are tackling the issue of suicide, but it has failed miserably to financially resource them. These groups do amazing work and have literally saved countless lives. Suicide prevention training facilitated across the State has also helped.

“In my opinion, Government action is the key to lasting change in this whole area.

“Government Departments have to be the driver of any change and a leader in not just developing strategies, but in implementing them on the ground in communities impacted by suicide. The need for a coordinated governmental approach encompassing the areas of mental health, housing addiction, prevention, and education among others, has been long documented.”

Crowe continued:

“We need to see the HSE providing early intervention, 24 hours 7 days a week crisis services, rolling out counselling at primary care, and schools based programmes.

“Suicide prevention cannot be outsourced or privatised. Providing services and an environment which protects the vulnerable against the causes of suicide is a central role of any government.

“The figures from the HSE suggest the numbers are going down but I think everyone would agree that collectively more needs to be done tackle suicide in our country.

“My party Sinn Féin will be playing its part and is proposing significant investment in mental health services and suicide prevention in our Alternative Budget 2018.”