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Suicide funding freeze criticised 18.01.08

AN INISHOWEN councillor has slated the Government's decision to freeze funding for the National Office for Suicide Prevention at last year's level.
Sinn Féin's Cllr Pádraig MacLochlainn called on the Health Minister to clarify her position on the role of the National Office for Suicide Prevention and the Government's commitment to dealing with suicide in Irish society.
"Despite the growing tragedy of suicide among communities the length and breadth of our country and despite all the rhetoric from government about seriously addressing this issue, we now find that there is to be no increase in 2008 in the budget for the National Office for Suicide Prevention," said Cllr. MacLochlainn.
"This makes a mockery of all the fine words uttered by Minister Harney and her colleagues with regard to suicide prevention and mental health generally." Cllr. MacLochlainn also criticised the fact that Grow, an organisation providing assistance to people with mental health problems, was being forced to scale down its operations due to inadequate HSE funding.
"If the Minister is serious in her commitment then she will ensure that there is no freeze in the budget for the office and that it is increased significantly for 2008 as part of the range of essential measures to address this heartbreak in Irish society," he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children yesterday said there had been "additional funding" provided in recent years to tackling suicide in Ireland.
"The National Office for Suicide Prevention has an annual budget of €4.5m but a number of other suicide prevention initiatives are also delivered by the HSE for which funding does not come within the suicide prevention office’s budget," said Minister Jimmy Devin.
"Some of these include funding for 11dedicated resources officers, deliberate self-harm response nurses in A&E departments and a wide range of general psychiatric services in both acute hospital and community settings."
He commended the "tremendous commitment and dedication" of those involved with the many statutory and voluntary organisations working to preventing suicide throughout the country.
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