Dáil Éireann - Volume 508 - 30 September, 1999
Written Answers. - Task Force Recommendations.
Mr. Neville Mr. Neville
114. Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress, if any, made on the introduction of the recommendations of the national task force on suicide. [18449/99]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
 Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The national task force on suicide in its report, which was published in 1998, put forward a national suicide prevention-reduction strategy and identified the various authorities with jurisdiction in suicide prevention strategies and their respective responsibilities.
Implementation of the national suicide prevention-reduction strategy commenced shortly after publication of the task force report with a partnership approach adopted between statutory and non-statutory services.
Central to the strategy has been the establishment of a suicide research group by the health boards to conduct research and advise health boards on measures to prevent and reduce suicide and attempted suicide. The group was established in 1998 and has met on several occasions. To date, the group's research-review has covered a range of data, including current Central Statistics Office figures relating to the incidence of suicide; recent research material available on suicide; the new Garda report forms, Form 104, submitted to the Central Statistics Office in cases of suicide and, the work of the newly established suicide committees and co-ordinators-resource persons appointed in each health board area.
At an early stage in its deliberations, the group recognised the need for research-resource support to assist in carrying out the tasks recommended in the report of the national task force on suicide. Funds have been provided for this purpose and it is hoped that the post of research resource officer will be filled in the near future. It is envisaged that the post holder will be involved in the collation of all existing research material, both national and international and making it available to the committee. The appointee will also examine the effectiveness of intervention programmes and will liaise with local co-ordinators in each of the health boards.
All health boards have appointed resource officers and have established multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary working groups to examine the implementation of the recommendations of the report. They are engaged in a range of activities, including the promotion of positive mental health and the destigmatisation of suicide, provision of information in relation to suicide and parasuicide, liaison with the media and provision of training for staff in relation to suicide and parasuicide. The process of consultation with statutory and voluntary groups regarding the issue of suicide has also commenced in many health board areas.
Priority has been given to the further development of mental health services for groups at risk of suicide, in particular the young and older age sectors of our population. Health boards are examining ways in which mental health services can be made more accessible to such groups and the provision of crisis intervention services is being examined by a number of boards.
I am concerned that greater accessibility to relevant health services be available to such groups at times of stress. I am committed to further developing consultant led child and adolescent and old age psychiatry services during 1999 which will assist in the early identification of suicidal  behaviour and provide the necessary support and treatment to individuals at risk. Resources totalling approximately £2.5 million have been made available this year to enable improvements to be carried out in these services. It is my intention to further develop these and other mental health services as resources permit.
I assure the Deputy that such actions will continue to be developed to assist in the prevention of this tragic problem.
Dáil Éireann 508 Written Answers. Task Force Recommendations.