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We must tackle the suicide epidemic

IT was alarming to read the figures for suicides (Irish Examiner, June 30). The 20% rise is a shocking statistic.

Young people who may be unemployed or suffering financial pressure would appear to be in a very high-risk category. Safeguarding mental health in Irish society should be a prioritised and shared objective.

Key measures that could be promoted from grassroots level to tackle mental health issues in our society include increased participation in sporting activities. This promotes general wellbeing. Volunteering in community projects would give people a sense of purpose. It would also be beneficial for networking and for increased social inclusion.

2011 has been voted the Year of Volunteering in the EU. This will encompass the concept of active citizenship.

As well as being a positive activity in itself, volunteering also brings communities together and adds value to local economies.

In these times of crisis, volunteering can provide an outlet for people to maintain and develop skills that will be of immense value once we return to economic growth.

I call on the Government urgently to address the issue of waiting lists for access to professional counselling and support.

We all know someone suffering from a mental health illness.

Now more than ever it is of critical importance that we protect young people’s mental health especially when unemployment rates are so high.

Sean Kelly MEP

Ireland South

European Parliament

Brussels


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