Donegal Mental Health Services promises better communication in light of suicide research

The Mental Health Service in Donegal is pledging to listen more after a three and a half year study into the suicides or untimely deaths of 34 people under the care of the service.
The research, which took place between October 2011 and May 2015 forms the basis of a report which is being launched today at 12 noon.
A number of new initiatives and protocols have already been implemented, and the chief researcher is staying in the region for three years to ensure that measures are implemented.
Prof Ella Arensman of the National Suicide Research Foundation led the study, and is president of the International Association of Suicide Prevention. She spoke today on the Shaun Doherty Show in advance of the report’s publication.
She says communication is a key issue…….

The HSE says a number of measures are being  implemented, They include –
·        A series of staff briefing sessions have taken place to inform staff of the findings and recommended actions from the study and to ensure their support and commitment in the implementation.
·        A comprehensive training package will include additional training in suicide risk assessment which will be tailored specifically to experience and level of expertise in both community and in-patient settings. This will address the complexities of treating service users with dual diagnosis and facilitate a collaborative, multi-agency approach.
·        An Information pack for families is being developed to address concerns identified by family members.
·        Contact with and support for bereaved families will be intensified as a matter of priority.
The HSE also says a number of new initiatives were implemented to address the prevention of suicide within the service whilst the study was taking place. Whilst these measures are not directly emerging from the research they are significant. They include:
·        The development of Connecting for Life Donegal suicide prevention action plan which represents a whole of society approach to reducing deaths by suicide and is already in its first year of implementation.
·        The appointment of two self-harm nurses in the Emergency Department of Letterkenny University hospital to ensure risk assessment and follow-up with all patients presenting with self-harm.
·        The appointment of two Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses offering consultation and assessment to individuals in crisis presenting to GPs.
·        The establishment of a Suicide Family Liaison Service through Console to ensure immediate support to families and individuals in the aftermath of a suicide death of a family member.
·        Training in self-harm awareness has been delivered to mental health and primary care staff.


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