The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has opened Ireland's first centre for the prevention of suicide and self-harm.

The community-based facility in Lucan, Co Dublin, aims to assist the growing number of people affected by suicide.

Pieta House is seen as an element of the Government's Reach Out National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention.

Suicide rates have grown dramatically in Ireland since the 1960s.

In 2005, 431 people died by suicide.

Joan Freeman, who is the Chief Executive of Pieta House, said such facilities are needed throughout the country.