Written answers

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Department of Education and Skills

Suicide Prevention

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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240. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her views on a matter (details supplied) regarding suicide rates and support for students to reduce financial strain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26468/15]

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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The Deputy will be aware that Connecting for Life, the new national strategic framework to reduce suicide 2015-2020, was launched earlier this month by the Government. The lead Department for this initiative is the Department of Health. Contained within this document are a number of commitments from various Government Departments and agencies. In respect of the higher education sector, the HEA has committed to three specific actions, namely, work with the HSE to develop national guidance for higher education institutions in relation to suicide-risk and critical-incident response, thereby helping to address any gaps which may exist in the prevention of suicide in higher education; support the co-ordination and streamlining of research completed by third-level institutions and encourage the coordination of suicide-prevention initiatives and research across the higher education sector.

The Connecting for Life document is available online at . Enquiries in respect of the Connecting for Life initiative should be directed to the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP). The NSOP also has responsibility for initiatives such as SafeTalk and ASIST. SafeTalk and ASIST are two internationally accredited suicide prevention programmes for adults. Both programmes provide competence and confidence for participants to engage with a person who may be experiencing emotional crisis and encourage that person to seek appropriate help. SafeTalk is a half day training programme and ASIST training is provided over two days. Training is provided free of charge by the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Training can be organised through the team of Resource Officers for Suicide Prevention located around the country.

The NOSP also fund a number of programmes targeted at young people, including third level students. This includes services provided by Reach Out, Inspire Ireland, SpunOut.ie, BeLongTo and Young Social Innovators. Services provided includes: information and advice for students and online presence including online therapeutic support. The NSOP works with the Union of Students of Ireland as a key partner. The contact details for the NOSP are: phone 01-6201672 or e-mail info@nosp.ie.

The Student Assistance Fund is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. The Fund is allocated annually to the universities, the institutes of technology, the colleges of education and a number of other higher education institutions. The objective of the Fund is to provide financial assistance to full-time undergraduate or postgraduate students in need of such support. The Fund is intended to support students whose participation in higher education would otherwise be at risk as a direct result of financial difficulties.

The Fund is designed to support students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds with ongoing needs for financial support and students with other circumstances giving rise to short or longer-term financial difficulties, including family responsibilities, bereavement, family difficulties, accidents or health problems. In all cases, institutions are responsible for targeting the available resources at those students most in need.

The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is funded by the Department of Social Protection. Enquiries in respect of the BTEA scheme should be referred to that Department.


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