The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD and the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD have announced the extension of Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide, Connecting for Life, to 2024.
Since 2015, Connecting for Life has provided a nationwide, cross-sectoral approach to reducing self-harm and suicide rates in Ireland. It was due to end in 2020 but has now been extended to 2024 to allow the strategy to continue a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approach to suicide prevention, with a strong focus on implementation and outcomes, reflecting national and international best practice.
The extension approved yesterday by Government will allow for:
Continuation of the Cross-Sectoral Connecting for Life Implementation Steering Group, for senior leadership and oversight of the Strategy. The Group is chaired by the Department of Health, with representation from 12 Government departments, the HSE, Tusla, and two NGOs.
A continued coordination and implementation role for the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), with a current budget of €13 million per annum.
Connecting for Life is a cross-sectoral strategy with 69 actions under seven strategic goals:
- A better understanding of suicidal behaviour
- Supporting communities to prevent and respond to suicidal behaviour
- Targeted approaches for those vulnerable to suicide
- Improved access, consistency, and integration of services
- Safe and high-quality services
- Reduce access to means
- Better data and research
Extending the national strategy to 2024 provides an opportunity to further advance many already-established, locally-based Connecting for Life actions throughout the country.
NOSP has developed a new and responsive implementation plan for the coming years. This plan is informed by the experience of implementation to date, the findings of the 2019 independent interim review of the Strategy, and consistent consultation with implementation partners, stakeholders, and government departments. Attracting, engaging, and involving all of society in the implementation of Connecting for Life will remain crucial to its success.
Minister Donnelly said:
Preventing the tragedy of suicide is a priority for this Government. This can only be done through ensuring those who are vulnerable have access to the care that they need, supporting communities to prevent and respond to suicidal behaviour, and improving attitudes to and understanding of suicidal behaviour, mental health and wellbeing. This will be challenging but the expansion of Connecting for Life to 2024, will help us to achieve this. By ensuring that the relevant Departments, agencies and organisations work together in a cohesive way, we can help to save many lives in this country.
Minister Butler said:
One death to suicide is one death too many. Suicide is a complex, multifaceted issue with many contributing causes. It affects the whole community. It is important that strong supports are in place to help family, friends and the community. The extension of our national strategy provides us with an opportunity to continue the aims of the strategy to reduce the suicide and self-harm rates in the whole population and among priority groups, including members of the Traveller community, people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ+ people, among others.
John Meehan, Chief Executive, NOSP, said:
The extension of Connecting for Life provides us with an opportunity to further advance and embed many already established local Connecting for Life implementation structures throughout the country. Attracting, engaging and involving all of society in the implementation of Connecting for Life, will remain crucial to its success. The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention – the named provider of cross-sectoral support for implementation of Connecting for Life – remains steadfast in its work.