Suicide Prevention 2009 Report

HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention publishes Annual Report for 2009 The recently published HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP)

2009 Annual Report outlines the integrated approach of the organisation regarding the provision of information, organisational training and awareness work with community groups. Provisional figures in the report from the Central Statistics Office show a 24% increase in the number of suicides recorded in 2009 compared to 2008, with a total number of 527 suicides, the highest ever recorded. This dramatic change reflects the international trend which indicates that suicide numbers increase during periods of economic downturn. Between the years 2005 and 2008 suicide numbers fell by 11%, in line with the target set by Government.

In 2009, the National Office of Suicide Prevention continued its work with over 30 projects spending €5.6 million with its partners, to tackle the issue of suicide prevention.

The projects focussing on the impact of the economic downturn include, working with organisations such as Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS, the financial advisory service, and FÁS, the State training body, to provide the booklet ‘Looking after your Mental Health in Tough Economic Times’ to their clients. Over 150,000 of the booklets have been distributed to date. The HSE NOSP works to improve the awareness of staff in understanding mental health and suicide prevention by providing training to staff in organisations working with people who are unemployed or in financial difficulty, with over 50 MABS offices offering training since mid 2009.

Additional ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and Safetalk training programmes will be offered to community groups and professionals who come into contact with people who may be expressing suicidal thoughts. Over 18,000 people have been trained in the two day ASIST skills programme since 2004. The NOSP coordinates ASIST for Ireland working in partnership with colleagues in Northern Ireland. A recent all island evaluation of ASIST indicates the further expansion of this programme.

Over 26,000 young people have accessed information on the mental health website, www.letsomeoneknow.ie, which was launched in October 2009. This site is aimed at 13 to 17 year olds and encourages them to talk to someone they trust about the things that are worrying them, as well as listening to any of their friends who may be in difficulty.

Partnership training with the Irish Prison Service, Defence Forces and Garda Síochána has also been put in place so that these key personnel are better equipped to respond to suicidal behaviour.

The publication of research ‘Supporting LGBT lives’ which examined suicidal behaviour in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities also took place in 2009. Actions have been taken since then to implement the recommendations.

The Annual Report for 2009 sets out progress against each of the actions in Reach Out, the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention. Last year saw some important developments in suicide prevention as well as being the year in which, regrettably, there was a record number of suicides.

The full report can be accessed on the HSE website, www.hse.ie.