FG criticises move to cut suicide funds

  • Joanne McCarthy

Reports that suicide prevention funds will be cut because of the economic crisis have been described by Fine Gael as a decision to save money at the expense of lives.

According to the Fine Gael spokesperson with special responsibility for mental health, Dan Neville TD, reports of a 12.5% cut in funding from the National Office for Suicide Prevention to mental health support groups was coming at the worst possible time.

“Research into suicide since the 1890s shows that there is an increase in suicide rates and mental illness during times of economic recession. The Minister for Health and the HSE should be responding to this need in the present economic crisis.  They are doing the opposite and justifying it on the back of saving a relatively small amount of money,” Deputy Neville said.

According to Deputy Neville, economic strain and personal financial crises have been well documented as precipitating events in individual deaths by suicide. Stressful life events have significant impact on those vulnerable to suicide where typical coping mechanisms are compromised by the effects of mental disorder, substance use, acute psychiatric symptoms, and most of the other risk factors associated with suicide, he said.

Deputy Neville also stressed that unemployment affects the suicide rate.

“Of the men who took their lives in the Kelleher/Daly Cork Study in the 1980s, two thirds were out of work at the time of their deaths,” he said.

“The economic crisis will be used to justify this measure but, in fact, this crisis necessitates that mental health support groups are as fully resourced as possible, not cut back.  The Government’s decision to impose a reduction in this area can only be seen as prioritising saving money over saving lives,” he concluded.

Discussions on this topic are now closed.