Plea For Round The Clock Suicide Prevention Services

Round-the-clock emergency response services are needed to help people at risk of suicide, it was claimed today.

Senator Mary White also called on local communities in urban and rural areas to take the lead in promoting awareness of depression and other mental health issues.

Ms White, who plans to run for the presidency in 2011, is tomorrow holding a two-day conference in Dublin on issues surrounding suicide prevention.

“Lives can be saved with greater awareness and a better response to people in crisis,” she said.

“More people die by suicide in Ireland each year than in road traffic accidents. In 2006 there were 366 road fatalities and 409 deaths by suicide.

The conference, Suicide Prevention – a Call to Action opens tomorrow evening in the City West Hotel and continues on Saturday.

Fianna Fail’s Ms White is campaigning for a national round-the-clock service for at-risk people to complement the work being done by voluntary helplines.

“A national out-of-hours Crisis and Emergency Service with on-call psychiatrists and social workers would ensure that vital interventions can be made at the critical time of need,” she said.

“The introduction of crises response services in England and Scotland have made a huge difference with suicide statistics falling dramatically.”

The event will feature speakers such as psychiatrist Dr John Hillery, Health Service Executive expert Catherine Brogan and representatives of the North Clondalkin Community Action Group in Dublin.

Ms White said that community action groups are vital for increasing and sustaining awareness in both urban and rural communities.

“Irish youth suicide rates are the fifth highest in Europe and there is evidence of an increase in suicide among older men in this country. These trends cannot be ignored. Immediate action is called for,” she explained.