Substantive changes have occurred to the cross-sectoral consultative process in suicide prevention policy planning in Ireland (1998-2015). Findings from interview and document analysis reveal that despite improvements, there remains a need for clearly defined, transparent cross-sectoral partnership in planning suicide prevention strategy. Findings reveal that the structure and systems in which the development of strategy takes place has a significant effect on the ability of stakeholders to impact policy change. It is also evident that successful implementation of strategy requires continuous evaluation of progress, in order to inform future strategy. Improved engagement methods, alongside rolling review, can offer a more robust, distinct and well-defined method for effective cross-sectoral participation.
The findings corroborate theoretical considerations, including the need to consider the range of policy actors in the process (Buse et al, 2005), the importance of policy context and political factors including boundaries and the impact on participation in policy planning (Keck and Sikkink, 1998). The study identified the characteristics and distinctiveness of the sectors in suicide prevention, considering power, parity of esteem and impact on the policy process. The study makes a number of recommendations, the need for a whole of Oireachtas approach to strategy planning, implementing and reviewing strategy, the importance of reviewing funding structures and procedures associated with commissioning of C&V organisations to deliver actions contained in strategy. Additional themes emerged in the study, including the potential of benefit from the development of cross-department linkages promoting suicide prevention as a priority agenda item. Improved cross-departmental communication would reduce the separateness and culture of silos between Government departments and statutory agencies. The study also reveals issues about independence, representativeness, gatekeeping and advocacy by elite groups in the C&V sector and how this impacts the process of developing and implementing suicide prevention strategy in Ireland.
- Policy process