Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guidelines to be issued on suicide prevention

All secondary schools in the State are to be issued with guidelines on suicide prevention next month as part of an initiative to promote a better way of responding to students’ mental health needs.

The issue of suicide among young people has come to the fore following the death of Shannon Gallagher (15) this week, six weeks after her sister, Erin (13), took her own life.

The deaths are the latest in a series of high-profile cases involving schoolgirls who have taken their own lives.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Kathleen Lynch are due to issue the guidelines which promote a “whole school” approach to mental health promotion.

They will be designed to support principals, guidance counsellors, student support teams and teachers. 

In addition, boards of management and in-school management teams will also be asked to play a central leadership role in mental health promotion.

Console, the national suicide prevention organisation, has called for increased education and action in identifying possible suicide and self-harm clustering in communities.

The group’s chief executive, Paul Kelly, said several communities across Ireland were trying to cope with a cluster of suicides within a short space of time locally. 

“We need to address the increased risk of suicide and self-harm clustering and contagion, in particular among young people,” he said. “Early identification of, and responding to, emerging suicide clusters is critical in reducing the incidence of suicide within our communities.”

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