Dáil debates

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation


12:45 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I do not know the details of the individual case raised by Deputies Ó Murchú and Fitzpatrick or the particular service that was mentioned but I am sorry to hear that story and my heart goes out to that man and his family. I wish to pass on my condolences to them at this time. I will not comment on the individual case or the service as I do not know anything about them but I will let the Minister know this was raised in the Chamber today. We have made a huge progress on mental health and suicide prevention in recent years. For the first time ever, the budget for this year exceeds €1 billion and the national anti-suicide strategy is being implemented. In fact, the number of people taking their lives in Ireland in the last year or two is around 30% lower than it was ten years ago. We are going in the right direction in that regard but that is no comfort to any family that has recently experienced suicide. It is worth putting on the record of the Dáil that that progress is being made.

We need to be careful what we say about services and staff. I have worked in healthcare and with patients with mental illness. It is very hard to assess whether or not people will take their life if one does not admit them, or after they are discharged. There is no X-ray or blood test for it so it is not like other areas of medicine. It based on a clinical judgment and we should be very careful that we never stray into blaming doctors, nurses, psychiatrists or particular services for bad outcomes. It is unfortunately not that simple.


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