Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Suicide prevention cuts warning

Charities are to face a third consecutive year of budget cuts

Suicide prevention and support services have been told by the Government to expect funding cuts for a third year in a row.

Despite commitments to increase spending in the sector by one million euro to five and a half million euro, charities say they have been warned budgets will be hit again in January.

Console, a leading counselling service, said it would struggle to cope with more than 150 at risk people already on waiting lists for support.

Founder Paul Kelly said: "People's lives are at stake. We have been told already we are to be cut again.

"We are fearful we can't maintain our level of service. It's going to be impossible if funding is constantly cut. It's inevitable the service will suffer."

Console's budget was cut by 12.5% in 2009 and 6.5% this year. It is estimated funding could fall by another 4% in January.

Mr Kelly also hit out at the funding differences between road safety and suicide prevention with the Road Safety Authority working from a 40 million euro budget.

"You can see the impact that 40 million has had reducing road deaths. And if they are only willing to give five million euro to suicide prevention that's abysmal. We should be up in arms about it," he said.

Despite the charity's claim, the Health Service Executive insisted budgets for next year have not been decided.

Console, which offers counselling to thousands of people every week, is expecting hundreds of people bereaved by suicide to attend its conference on Friday to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

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