Danish government proposes more cuts to suicide prevention

Budget proposal drops initiatives to meet WHO suicide reduction targets

The government has been attracting criticism since announcing at the end of last week that its budget proposal would retract funding from the suicide helpline Livslinien, forcing it to discontinue its night-time opening.

Politiken now reports that this measure is just one of three proposed budget cuts relating to suicide prevention, totalling 43 million kroner in the period up to 2018.

READ MORE: Danish government retracts grant for suicide helpline’s night opening 

The other two casualties of the cuts are a general suicide prevention program and a program of special campaigns focusing on girls and older men.

The initiatives were included in last year’s budget following Denmark’s commitment to a World Health Organisation (WHO) target of reducing the number of suicides by ten percent by 2020.

Falling short
Merete Nordentoft, a clinical professor at the University of Copenhagen and a researcher in suicidal behaviour, told Politiken the cuts would mean falling short of the target.

“It means we lose the possibility to reduce suicide, and that’s what we’ve promised. It’s extremely hard and what we’ve been doing those past ten years haven’t been enough. Therefore we need these initiatives,” she said.

The support parties Dansk Folkeparti and Konservative are also critical of the cuts.

Mette Abildgaard, the health spokesperson for Konservative, talked in terms of a moral obligation.

“It is the most vulnerable people in society who have basically given up hope and faith in life. We owe it to them to do everything we have in our power, and these initiatives help to reach a hand out to these people,” she said.