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Potential development of data system for probable suicide in community mental health

By David Lynch - 22nd Apr 2024

probable suicide

A HSE and Mental Health Commission (MHC) project aims to improve access to suicide data in community mental health services, this newspaper has been told.

The project, involving the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), MHC, and the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), was discussed at the HSE safety and quality committee meeting in October.

A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) the collaborative project involves a retrospective review of the completeness of two different sets of data relating to probable suicide deaths in mental health services from 2015 to 2020.

One of these data sets is from the MHC while the other is from the National Incident Management System. Asked whether this work could result in the establishment of a suicide registry, the spokesperson said the project would inform a strategic work plan to improve access to suicide data in community mental health services.

“It will not result in the establishment of a national suicide registry as such,” the spokesperson told MI. “How- ever, it has established a strong proof of concept for the potential development of a specific national data capturing system and linked safety programme on probable suicide deaths among mental health service users.” The spokesperson added that this work would involve numerous stakeholders and collaborative partners internal andexternal to the HSE.


In Ireland, the Central Statistics Office classifies and provides official mortality data, including deaths by suicide. “However, the HSE NOSP – under Connecting for Life, Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide – works on progressing research and enhancing other data related to suicide.” In 2022 the NOSP published The Irish Probable Suicide Deaths Study. This presented information on ‘probable suicide’ deaths in Ireland for a four-year period from 2015 to 2018. “The aims of the study were to improve our under- standing of the characteristics of people who have died by ‘probable suicide’ in Ireland, identify risk factors for probable suicide, and inform the planning, implementation, and evaluation of suicide prevention measures in Ireland.”

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