(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Knesset Finance Committee on Tuesday committed itself to financing a
national program for reducing the number of suicides, which began this year as a
Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism)
made the announcement in a special session on suicide prevention.
Avraham Michaeli, who in the past has promoted several initiatives to reduce
suicide, initiated the session. Michaeli said the pilot project has been very
successful in Ramle, Rehovot and Kafr Kana and is slated to stop at the end of
this year because it lacks NIS 600,000.
The pilot managed to
significantly reduce the number of suicides in the three locations. There
was not a single case of suicide in Kafr Kana since the project began, Michaeli
said. Six government ministries are partners in the project, which should
be expanded and not halted, the MK said.
The Health Ministry leads the
project, which screens people for suicidal tendencies and treats them before it
is too late.
Now, a budgetary problem for a national program has arisen,
and its continued existence is threatened by a lack of NIS 8 million. The
six ministries – which besides Health are Education; Welfare and Social
Services; Industry, Trade and Labor; Immigrant Absorption; and Pensioners
Affairs – have not committed themselves to finance a continuation, Michaeli
Health Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev described
the project in the session and said that staffers were specially trained to
identify potential suicides and treat them. Multidisciplinary teams of family
physicians, social workers, psychologists, mental health teams, teachers and
school counselors are integrated into the project.
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Gafni demanded that
the Finance Ministry’s budget division allocate money to implement the program
and asked the six ministries that are involved to apply for funds. If they are
turned down, he said, they should update the Finance Committee, which would make
sure during discussions of the 2013 budget that money be transferred from other
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