In 2015, the Government launched Connecting for Life, the new national strategy to reduce suicide 2015-2020.
Connecting for Life is founded on the suicide prevention work that has taken place in Ireland over the past ten years as part of Reach Out, the Government's previous strategy to reduce suicide. Since then, there have been significant developments in the areas of research, policy and service delivery relating to suicide prevention, including:
- National and international research into suicidal behaviours and an improved understanding of the evidence base for suicide prevention.
- A stronger and far-reaching working relationship with a wide range of non-statutory and community partners, underpinned by a focus on hope, belief, recovery and commitment.
- A range of public policies within and beyond the health services that either deal directly with suicide prevention or have the potential to impact positively in terms of reducing suicidal behaviour and improving the wellbeing of the population.
- Increased public awareness of suicide prevention and mental health.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Ms. Kathleen Lynch, Minister for Primary Care, Social Care, and Mental Health launch Connecting for Life with our partners.
The planning process for Connecting for Life involved the engagement of a broad range of statutory, non-statutory and community stakeholders, identifying agreed strategic priorities, setting clear goals and objectives; it is underpinned by strong political leadership and commitment. The focus on engagement in the strategy development process has created a strong community of people and agencies ready to lead the implementation of Connecting for Life.
Connecting for Life involves preventive and awareness-raising work with the population as a whole, supportive work with local communities and targeted approaches for priority groups. The strategy proposes high-quality standards of practice across service delivery areas, and an underpinning evaluation and research framework. This wide reach presents unique implementation challenges. The whole-of-government, multi-agency, inter-professional, expert-by-experience, local/national focuses will involve multiple stakeholders across and between levels of government and governance.
Implementing Connecting for Life will challenge all individuals and agencies and collectively allow everyone's strengths to evolve. Connecting for Life will aim to connect these and use these evolving strengths to form a major force for change in suicide prevention in Ireland.
Solid building blocks are already in place, as was evident throughout the implementation of Reach Out, particularly in relation to the developing evidence base and the range of services available to the public. However, gaps in services remain. Significant issues around timely access to services and early identification of risk are to be resolved and resourced.
Connecting for Life places huge value on the necessary collaborative partnerships and the rich learning that has and will continue to take place. This is essential and brings its own challenges. The range of suicide prevention services has developed significantly over the past decade and it is only by pooling expertise and resources and working together in a spirit of real cooperation that we can continue the great work already started in this area.
The implementation structure envisaged to deliver this strategy will assist in maintaining momentum and support, within a spirit of mutual respect and a united and focused platform of quality services for our community.
International suicide prevention: