01/12/2011

'Holistic Approach' Key To Suicide Prevention

A new study into suicide has suggested a wide-ranging, 'holistic' approach to prevention has the best chance of success.

The official findings into research on suicidal men, aged 16-34, in Northern Ireland, were launched today.

The report, 'Providing meaningful care: using the experiences of young suicidal men to inform mental health care services' funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development division, Public Health Agency (PHA), recommends a holistic approach to suicide prevention, across many sectors and touching on all aspects of individual, social and community life.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) produced the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, 'Protect Life - A Shared Vision' in 2006. It is currently being refreshed; however it identifies the need for research to inform policy development and service provision.

'Providing Meaningful Care' is the second piece of published research adding to the evidence base of how best to support positive mental health and emotional wellbeing, and to deliver the protect life strategy.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Eddie Rooney, PHA Chief Executive, said: "Everyone in Northern Ireland is aware of the devastation to individuals, families and communities that suicide brings.

"Promoting mental health and suicide prevention is a priority, not only for the Public Health Agency and our partner organisations, but also for every local community across Northern Ireland.

"The importance of using research findings to tailor support services to the need of vulnerable people cannot be overemphasised.

"This report tells us that suicide prevention is not just about clinical intervention in recognised mental health facilities, but that young men need a more holistic approach that will enable them to develop coping strategies and life-skills, available in both formal and accessible community settings

"This report will help us to provide more targeted support and training e.g. in schools, clubs, at key access points in the community as well as in statutory services, to foster good mental health and emotional wellbeing, to raise awareness of early warning signs that there may be a mental health problem and to promote sources of help, generally and at times of crisis, within our communities."

NI Health Minister Edwin Poots said: "Providing meaningful care has presented crucial information from those who really know the impact of suicide and what is needed to help prevent it. The study has helped to expand the local knowledge base on suicide in Northern Ireland.

"Together with other recently published research, it has helped to build a bank of invaluable local evidence on the causes of suicide, risk factors, and potential new interventions.

"Our investment in research is starting to pay dividends by informing the design and delivery of services that will eventually lower the burden of suicide in our society."

(BMcC/GK)

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