Fine Gael councillor Brian Walsh has welcomed the party’s plans to double the funding for suicide prevention to €10m a year, if elected to form part of the next government, after new figures released by the HSE revealed that 29 people died by suicide in Galway in 2009.
Nationally, the number of people who took their own lives rose by almost a quarter from 424 to 527 between 2008 and 2009. Ireland recorded the fourth highest rate of youth suicide in the EU behind only Estonia, Lithuania and Finland.
Cllr Walsh said that his party’s plan to increase funding for suicide prevention was a “hugely important” feature of its election manifesto as the country was facing the prospect of a suicide epidemic in the midst of the recession.
“Studies have shown that suicide rates invariably rise during times of recession and there is a direct correlation between unemployment and the incidence of suicide,” he said. “We cannot sit idle and allow suicide to become a tragic by-product of the economic downturn.
“Fine Gael’s plan to double the funding for the National Office of Suicide Prevention to €10m may help to reduce tragic incidents that destroy so many families in Ireland each year by improving prevention strategies and developing better bereavement support services for those affected by the tragedies.”
The latest figures released by the HSE show that 26 men and three women took their lives in Galway in 2009. Nationally, 422 men and 105 women died by suicide, most were aged 20 to 24 years. The most common age group for women was 51 to 60 years.
The National Office of Suicide Prevention previously received €4.5m a year in State funding but received a supplementary grant of €1m last September.
General Election candidate Cllr Walsh said that the increase in the recent figures had highlighted the urgency that existed in tackling the issue of self-harm and suicide before the problem spiralled to epidemic proportions.
“Mental health is an area that is particularly pertinent in times of economic recession and one that has been central to my campaign. It is vital that we take action now so that anyone who feels that they need help in these stressful times can be assured that there are support services available to them.”