Suicide reduction must be a priority for next government

–  Samaritans calls for action on three steps to save lives –

The next Government will be failing people who are struggling and communities across Ireland if it does not take action on suicide says Samaritans as the charity calls on candidates and parties to take ‘Three Steps to Change Lives’ if elected.

The steps outlined in Samaritans’ manifesto, set out the need to make suicide reduction a political priority, address gaps in mental health service provision so that people can access the care they need, and tackle alcohol misuse.

Latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that there were 487 deaths by suicide in 2013 compared to 541 deaths by suicide in 2012. This is the second year running that the number of suicides in Ireland has decreased and the charity believes that a commitment to tackling suicide is needed if this trend is to continue.

Catherine Brogan, Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland, said:

“Almost 500 lives are lost to suicide in Ireland each year.  Every one of those who take their own lives is a friend, partner, child or relative of someone. While suicide is a complex issue with many causes, we know that a sustained approach to tackling suicide can reduce the number of lives lost each year.

Tackling suicide requires a wide range of agencies to work together nationally and in local communities, to give people the best chance to turn their lives around when they are struggling. Strong political oversight and leadership is required to ensure that the challenges we face in reducing suicide are overcome.

Samaritans is calling on parties and candidates to commit to implementing Connecting for Life, the national strategy for suicide reduction, to ensure that local plans to tackle suicide are developed and to provide ring-fenced funding for suicide reduction.

The charity is asking for a commitment to ensure that people can access mental health services in the community when they need them by expanding access to counselling and to 24/7 crisis services.

Up to 65% of suicides are related to excessive drinking and alcohol use is one of the highest risk factors for suicide. Samaritans is asking the incoming Government to address the link between alcohol misuse and suicidal behaviour by introducing a minimum unit pricing policy for alcohol and improving treatment for people with alcohol problems who are at risk of suicide.

“Calls to Samaritans continue to increase year on year. It is clear that many people in Ireland are struggling to cope. The next Programme for Government is a vital opportunity to reduce the suffering which affects so many people in Ireland. A significant difference can be made to the rate of suicide and to find ways to respond to people in distress by working together, locally and nationally, to achieve real change in Ireland if suicide is a political priority.”

Samaritans branches across the country responded to 623,579 calls to its free helpline, 13,272 emails and 7,705 texts in the 12-month period from October 2014 to September 2015. This was a 30% increase in contacts compared to the previous 12 month period.

You can read Samaritans’ manifesto online at www.samaritans.ie


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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact
Rachel Wright, Samaritans Ireland on 016710071/085860554 or at r.wright@samaritans.org.

Notes to editors:

  • You don’t have to be suicidal to call us. Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.