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10-year suicide strategy announced
[Posted: Fri 09/09/2005 www.irishhealth.com]
By Deborah Condon
A 10-year strategy aimed at reducing the number of people who commit suicide in Ireland every year will target specific groups considered to be particularly vulnerable, such as young men and those who deliberately self-harm.
Last year in Ireland, 457 people committed suicide. Almost 80% of these were male. Furthermore suicide is now the biggest killer of people aged 15 - 34 here.
Announcing the new Government strategy, Reach Out, Health Minister Mary Harney said that a range of actions will be taken by various State and non-governmental agencies on four different levels:
-The general population.
-Specific target groups such as young men.
-Responding to a suicide.
-Information and research.
The strategy highlights the fact that during the 1980s and 1990s, Ireland experienced one of the fastest rising suicide rates in the world. In fact, during this time, the overall suicide rate doubled.
This rise was largely confined to men, particularly young men. However the strategy notes that data from the Central Statistics Office indicates that the female suicide rate may also be increasing and should be closely monitored.
The strategy also highlights the serious issue of deliberate self-harm (DSH). Over 11,000 cases of this are now seen in A&E departments every year. DSH rates are highest among younger people, peaking for girls aged 15 - 19 and men aged 20 - 24.
The first 'level' of the strategy - that of the general population - will see a number of areas targeted, including the family, schools, colleges, workplaces and primary care.
Within schools, the objective is 'to promote positive mental health, develop counselling services and put standard crisis response protocols in place in all primary and secondary schools'.
While the aim in the workplace is 'to promote positive mental health, employee supports and crisis readiness in all places of work'.
This level also aims to 'reduce the stigma associated with suicidal behaviour and emotional distress that exists in every sector of society'.
The second level of the strategy will focus on specific groups, including young men, older people, unemployed people, those who deliberately self-harm and those who abuse alcohol and drugs.
The third level of the strategy centres on responding to a suicide. The aim of this level is to minimise the distress felt among families, friends and the community following a suicide.
The final level will focus on information and research. This will include improving access to information relating to suicidal behaviour and providing those effected with the knowledge of where to go for help.
At the launch of the strategy, Minister Harney also announced the immediate establishment of a new Office for Suicide Prevention. This will be headed up by Geoff Day, chairman of the National Suicide Review Group.
"The national office will be responsible for co-ordinating the good work already being undertaken around the country and for ensuring implementation of the strategy. The emphasis in this document is on action and improving the health service response to deliberate self-harm and suicide is an important part of this strategy", Mr Day said.
Meanwhile immediate priorities, according to Minister Harney, include:
-The development of a national campaign to promote positive mental health.
-The creation of new services for treating deliberate self-harm in A&E departments.
-The development of bereavement support services.
Welcoming the strategy, Paul O'Hare of the Samaritans said that it 'represents good progress in helping Irish society deal with suicide'.
The Samaritans can be contacted at 1850 60 90 90 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
|John(OHL33440) Posted: 09/09/2005 13:11|
|An open letter to Jeoff Day: Most neuroscientists would agree that the affective state commonly called 'depression' is associated with shortfall of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) at the presynaptic terminal. The latest class of anti-depressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been designed to act at these terminals, specifically to increase the amount of 5-HT that interacts with the postsynaptic element. Time has shown that the SSRIs have limited therapeutic value. Here is the reason why: the 5-HT deficiency at serotonergic terminals is the functional consequence of a decrease in the synthesis of that chemical messenger resulting from hyperpolarisation of serotonergic cell bodies - the brainstem raphe. Consequently, no amout of frigging about at terminals can restore normal serotonergic function. The question then is: what causes hyperpolarisation of the brainstem raphe?|
|John(OHL33440) Posted: 11/09/2005 14:20|
|Geoff Day might also take into account that SSRIs are marketed primarily for financial gain and by an industry that cares nothing about the long-term effects of pharmocological tempering with brain function. Ten-year, twenty-year, or even fifty-year follow-up studies can tell us nothing useful about the functional consequences of SSRI action on highly plastic neurotransmitter systems that took millions of years to evolve. Furthermore, while 5-HT shortfall may be associated with the condition that has come to be called \'depression,\' there are few if any grounds for the assumption that either 5-HT deficiency or \'depression\' directly trigger suicide. 5-HT deficiency and \'depression\' may well be contributory - necessary but not sufficient conditions. The straw that breaks the camel\'s back more often than not can be found in moribund cultural norms -pathological norms so deeply entrenched that they have become institutionalised and flaunted as virtues! These \'virtues\' in turn enjoy the protection of a labyrinthine system of intellectual taboos - taboos that intimidate every facet of Ireland\'s intellectual life. I know from personal experience that institutionalised intellectual taboos sow the seeds of despair. And - tragically - the brightest minds are the one\'s most at risk!. The arrogant mediocrat - he\'s the one who survives the monotony of moribund cultural and social norms. If our statisticians took pains they would find that many young men and women succumb to suicide not because they are depressed but because they can no longer endure the despair inflicted by intransigent institutions. Geoff Day will have to take the lead and begin the painful task of rooting out these taboos and reforming these institutions - anything less would be a futile waste of time and taxpayers\' money.|
|Anonymous Posted: 15/09/2005 14:39|
|I also think it is so very very importantthat we teach men from when they are very very litle boys to effectively communicate emotionally. As mothers, father and teachers, we must give them the language of emotion and allow even encourage them to use it frequently as we do with girls. Women, externalaize sadness - wheras so many men tend to internalise it for fear of being seen a womanly or weak.|
|John(OHL33440) Posted: 15/09/2005 16:35|
|Thank you - we seem to be on the same wavelength!|
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