QUESTION NOS: 536 to 538

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Ms. Lynch)

by Deputy Anthony Lawlor

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 08/11/2011

 * 536. To ask the Minister for Health if he has taken on board the recommendations of the National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm Annual Report of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

* 537. To ask the Minister for Health based on the recommendations of the National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm Annual Report of 2010, will there be an increase in aftercare programmes for persons who self harm.

* 538. To ask the Minister for Health if it is proposed to increase the information available to the general public on the common symptoms of depression and signs of suicidal behaviour and where persons can access help for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Government’s commitment to the development of our mental health services in line with A Vision for Change and Reach Out was clearly shown in the Programme for Government which provides that €35 million will be ring-fenced annually from within the overall health budget to develop community mental health services, ensure early access to more appropriate services for adults and children and implement Reach Out. This is currently being considered as part of the Estimates process for 2012 and future years.

Several initiatives are ongoing and in development that take account of the recommendations of the National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm Report of 2010. An additional €1 million was provided to the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) in 2011 to develop the number and range of training and awareness programmes as well as improving and standardising the response to deliberate self harm. The NOSP is working to progress a more unified and consistent response to self-harm presentations in Emergency Departments. A self harm awareness training programme is also being developed which will be rolled-out nationally over the coming years, beginning next year. The HSE Clinical Care national lead on mental health is working with key stakeholders to develop a uniform approach to self harm assessments in emergency departments so that all those who present will receive the most appropriate care and treatment. In addition, a pilot project is now underway in the Cork Hospital Group to train all appropriate clinical staff in self harm/suicide management and it is planned that in due course this will be rolled-out to other hospitals. The NOSP has also funded a number of community Suicide Community Assessment Nurses (SCAN) who work primarily with GPs to provide early intervention services to clients in suicidal crisis and thus avoid admission to hospital . A number of voluntary organisations also provide services to those who self harm.

A core function of the NOSP is the provision of evidence based information to the general population on suicide prevention and mental health promotion. The NOSP co-ordinates the development and dissemination of information resources through Information is available to the public regarding the symptoms of depression and signs of suicide through the website. The NOSP also coordinates two public health awareness campaigns on mental health – the Your Mental Health Campaign which is targeted at adults and the Let Someone Know Campaign which is targeted at young people.

Where there are symptoms of depression or suicidal behaviour, the most appropriate course is to advise the individual to seek help from their GP, who can then make a referral to other services such as the mental health or addiction services, if the suicidal behaviour is drug or alcohol related. In an emergency the individuals should be referred or taken to the nearest hospital emergency department for a medical assessment, treatment and if necessary referral to other services.