As one of your constituents, I am writing to voice my concern about the issue of Suicide, both nationally & in our constituency. In short, we need a more co-ordinated and better resourced approach to address the problem of Suicide in Ireland.
Every day, two people die by suicide in Ireland. They may be a friend, neighbour or colleague, but each is someone’s son or daughter, parent or sibling. Every suicide sends a devastating ripple effect through the wider community. Members of this constituency have died by suicide over your term in Government, with many more lives devastated as a result. Yet suicide can be preventable.
Suicide continues to be the biggest killer of young people in Ireland, but affects all ages and demographics in every community. Three times more people die by suicide than die on our roads, yet over ten times more is spent on road safety than on suicide prevention. The reality for many in crisis is that there is a lack of sufficient services for them at their time of need.
I support the position of the 3Ts Charity and the many others working in the field who call for the formation of a Suicide Prevention Authority similar in structure to the Road Safety Authority (RSA). I am writing to ask you to support this position and to include this as an important element of your party’s manifesto in advance of the forthcoming general election. The 3Ts have prepared a Suicide Prevention Authority Bill which would provide the legislative framework for this and have circulated this with an Explanatory Memorandum to party leaders and TDs, including your good self. I am asking you to review this and take the necessary steps to progress this Bill.
The 3Ts’ call for Suicide Prevention Authority suggests not only a more co-ordinated approach to suicide prevention with better resources and funding which I believe can deliver a more effective solution. A Suicide Authority as proposed by 3Ts could:
- Be an independent authority established in law with statutory functions, initially funded through the Exchequer but eventually self-funding;
- Create a framework for Suicide & Self Harm prevention in Ireland with increased flexibility & innovation, utilising partnership & collaboration, drawing on best practice internationally, building on good work already underway but also identifying & addressing gaps or shortfalls across all relevant sectors at national and community levels;
- Collaborate across departments – Health, Finance, Education & Skills, Children & Youth, Justice & Equality, Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation etc;
- Develop infrastructure establishing a Centre of Excellence, a dedicated Suicide Prevention service in every A&E unit in Ireland, a 24/7 suicide crisis intervention helpline, a dedicated “24/7 Suicide Prevention GP on call” service in towns & cities nationwide, effective follow-up care and provision of suicide bereavement services.
- Inform & educate across all age groups and demographics via a suicide prevention education framework throughout the education cycle and beyond, for all frontline workers including teachers, counsellors, GPs, nurses, Gardai, prison wardens, primary care workers, emergency services etc.
- Develop a licencing & regulatory framework across the sector, for statutory & voluntary agencies and organisations and across therapists & other practitioners working in related fields.
- Identify funding streams eg licencing & regulatory, educational training, intellectual property etc. The RSA generates income from Driving Licences, NCTs or from sale of educational programmes to other states. Similarly, a Suicide Prevention Authority could generate income from, for instance, licencing of therapists or sale of education programmes.
- Co-ordinate research & evaluation, measuring impacts and building on evidence to inform the best mental health and suicide prevention programmes and services.
- Foster a culture of informed mental health awareness.
- If the Bill is successful, it will enable this authority to have its own ring fenced funds incapable of being diverted and would address the ‘patch work’ nature of the services that currently exist for those seeking help from mental health problems. It will help prevent suicides.
An authority could tap into all relevant Government Departments as outlined above. As an independent entity, with an independent chair, it would have the ability to call to account the services provided and insist on best standards that can be secured for our people, driving innovation, improvement, safety, quality and accountability akin to the health watchdog, HIQA (the Health Information & Quality Authority).
Lives will continue to be lost to suicide both in your constituency and nationally. We need you to take a firm stand on suicide prevention, to ensure that your party addresses this in your party manifesto, so that when your constituents vote you into Government, a Suicide Prevention Authority can become an important inclusion in your Programme for Government.
Follow this link to learn more about the 3Ts and their Campaign for a Suicide Prevention Authority.