There is a risk that a data sharing protocol will not be signed by An Garda Síochana resulting in no source of real-time data on suspected suicides, according to the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) risk register for July 2023. The risk was first recorded in April 2022.
A progress report on the NOSP operational plan, relating to quarter one of 2023, noted the protocol had been “reviewed by the Garda Executive, but has still not been signed”. The HSE Clinical Lead for Mental Health had raised the issue with the Department of Justice which was “supportive” of the protocol, according to the progress report.
A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent that An Garda Síochána works with the NOSP and other stakeholders on suicide prevention initiatives.
“One outcome of this has been the development of a joint working protocol and memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will enable regular sharing of data on deaths by suspected suicide from An Garda Síochána to the HSE NOSP. This project has been in development since 2021 and the joint working protocol has gone through various revisions and review processes (which are anticipated as part of a project of this nature). Various aspects of the protocol are currently still in discussion.”
The protocol aims to establish a rapid and direct referral pathway for those bereaved to supports/services, and to enable the HSE to better respond to incidents or emerging trends of suspected suicide in real-time.
“The provision of more real-time data on suspected suicides, and flow of indicative data resulting from this joint working protocol, will assist in achieving these aims – noting that in Ireland, official mortality statistics (including data on deaths by suicide) are published by the Central Statistics Office two years after the calendar year in which they took place.”
A Garda spokesperson said the documents are “currently subject to review by the relevant parties”.