Fianna Fáil has launched a new policy on suicide prevention claiming their proposals could cut rates by 30%.

The party is proposing that the programme be funded through a 7.5% levy on off-licence sales.

CSO figures show that 525 people died by suicide in 2011.

However, Fianna Fáil said that with undetermined cases the actual figure is now more than 600 annually and constitutes a public health emergency.

Senator Marc MacSharry said the programme involved radical reform of the National Office for Suicide Prevention, which would become independent of the HSE and have a ring-fenced budget.

There would be a 24-hour hotline staffed by trained professionals, out of hours emergency social work teams, and a dramatic increase in the numbers of suicide prevention resource officers.

Senator MacSharry said there were no easy fixes when dealing with suicide, but that the scale of the response had to match the scale of the problem.