Wexford's suicide prevention and self-harm plan is brought to life by Minister Kathleen Lynch

By AMy Lewis

Published 20/01/2016 | 00:00

Above: Cllr. Tony Dempsey (Cathaoirleach), Minister Brendan Howlin TD, Minister Kathleen Lynch, Cllr. Ger Carthy Mayor, Wexford Municipal Area and Gerry Raleigh; INSET LEFT: Minister Kathleen Lynch at the launch.
Above: Cllr. Tony Dempsey (Cathaoirleach), Minister Brendan Howlin TD, Minister Kathleen Lynch, Cllr. Ger Carthy Mayor, Wexford Municipal Area and Gerry Raleigh; INSET LEFT: Minister Kathleen Lynch at the launch.
Minister Kathleen Lynch.

Continuing the conversation on mental health and suicide is the cornerstone of Connecting for Life Wexford, the new suicide prevention and self-harm plan for the county.

Launched by Minister for Mental Health, Social Care and Primary Care Kathleen Lynch in Wexford County Council, the local plan was developed by the HSE in co-operation with other organisations. It is the local response to the national plan, Connecting for Life, which envisions a minimum of 10 per cent reduction in the suicide rate in Ireland by 2020.

Though Minister Lynch acknowledged that the target was ambitious, she highlighted the work that has already been done in Wexford since the initial county wide plan was launched in 2004.

'I'm pleased that Wexford has been to the forefront over the last decade in getting agencies and communities to work together. There is a lot more awareness of resources in suicide prevention in Co. Wexford since its initial plan was launched in 2004,' she said. 'Rates of suicide in the county have reduced in the time since and I'm pleased that there was the resolve to compile and adopt a new plan.'

'We're not there yet but we're on the right road and we can take the journey together,' she added.

The background work on Connecting for Life Wexford began in 2014 when an extensive public consultation was rolled out across the county. Surveys, pop-up groups, media engagement and public and professional consultations were just some of the initiatives carried out in order to develop the strategy.

Gerry Raleigh, Director of the HSE Mental Health Division's National Office of Suicide Prevention (NOSP) outlined the plan's actions at the launch, which includes universal, selective (or group specific), targeted and implementation actions. Through implementing these actions at local and national level, he believes Ireland can exceed the 10 per cent target.

'I am full of hope for the future. I think as a society, we are beginning to turn a corner,' he said.

Representing Wexford County Council at the event was Cathaoirleach Cllr Tony Dempsey, who made a speech about reclaiming the art of conversation. He reflected on his past in rural Ireland, during a time when everyone looked out for one another.

'Nowadays, you are lucky if you know your neighbours,' he said. 'Lets reclaim conversation. Lets reclaim visiting.'

Cllr Dempsey also broached the subject of the points system, which he said puts 'huge pressure' on young people.

Also at the launch of Connecting for Life were representatives from various services, who discussed their services with visitors at their stands.

Minister Lynch also launched the evaluation report of the Self-Harm Intervention Programme, Responding to Self-Harm - An Evaluation of the Self-Harm Intervention Programme. She applauded the success of the free HSE counselling service and congratulated all involved. Dr Gerard O'Neil, Director of Healthcare, Community Healthcare Organisation 5 welcomed the report and outlined the key findings within it.

'The report found that SHIP is clinically and cost effective. It shows an improvement in mental health and a reduction in self-harm and isolation.'

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