22/01/2020

Popular Figures Demand Intervention On Suicide

An open letter calling for urgent action on suicide prevention has been signed by a host of high-profile figures in Northern Ireland.

The demand, signed by the likes of Carl Frampton, Gary Lightbody and Michael Conlan, urges political leaders at Stormont to declare a "public health emergency" on the mental health crisis.

Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the UK and Ireland.

The letter sets out two practical steps for new Health Minister Robin Swann; to double the funding available for counselling and ensure no one waits over 28 days for an appointment.

An extract reads: "The current suicide reduction target of 10% over five years, equating to roughly six deaths a year being prevented, is wholly inadequate.
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"Similarly, the funding allocation of £10.35m - a miniscule 0.2% of the overall health budget - is a fraction of what's required.

"Access to services is piece-meal and waiting times for counselling vary greatly across trusts, with people being forced to wait several months for an initial appointment

"We are therefore asking you as the health minister to declare a public health emergency."

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan united a host of public figures to sign the letter, which highlights that the number of suicide deaths since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 is greater than the amount of deaths during the conflict.

"Behind the statistic of 307 deaths by suicide in 2018 are individuals who were much loved and continue to be mourned by their loved ones," the letter continues.

"Alarm bells are ringing in all communities.

"We urge you to act now."



(JG/CM)

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