26/04/2012

Suicide Awareness Training To Be Introduced To Council Staff

Suicide awareness training is to be introduced for all staff and politicians at Belfast City Council, the Lord Mayor has announced.

The new initiative is just one outcome of a community conference hosted at City Hall by Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile.

Families affected by suicide are among those attending the 'Celebrating Life' event, aimed at raising awareness around positive mental health and suicide prevention.

Other outcomes of the discussions will include a report to inform the development of an emotional resilience and wellbeing strategy for the city, a key priority of the Belfast Strategic Partnership.

A new annual Lord Mayor's award, recognising individual efforts to promote positive mental health and help others, was also announced.

The Lord Mayor said: "Too many families across our city have been touched by the tragedy of suicide and, while acknowledging the good work being done by so many in the community, I want to play my part in addressing a subject which has such devastating consequences.

"I hope what I have organised will be direct engagement between statutory groups, local community groups, young people and their families – all of us working together to make a positive contribution to life in Belfast. I believe that, working in partnership, we can put together an action plan that will help save lives."

Dr David Becker, a world renowned expert on the effects of trauma in cities and regions emerging from conflict, told the conference that it was important to examine what he referred to as the psychosocial causes of suicide.

"In analyzing the issue, we must focus on the emotional reaction of individuals to their social context, and the conflict between the two."

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, added: "Suicide and self-harm is a major problem which affects individuals, families and communities in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. The Public Health Agency supports a strategic approach rooted in the community to identify local needs and try to provide real solutions to this very complex issue. We are working in the Belfast Strategic Partnership and with local people who provide trusted, accessible community-based facilities, supported by skilled and experienced mental health professionals, all working together to promote positive mental and emotional wellbeing."

(CD/GK)

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