07/02/2020

Minister Swann Meets Families Bereaved By Suicide

Health Minister Robin Swann has met with families in north Belfast who have lost loved ones through suicide.

Held at the Houben Centre on Thursday, the meeting was a chance for the Minister to hear first-hand the loss suffered by local people and their thoughts on the services and support available.

It comes in the wake of severe loss through suicide in recent months, particularly among young men in the north Belfast area.

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

Popular figures from the community, including the likes of Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and Gary Lightbody, came together last month to demand the Minister declares a "public health emergency" on the mental health crisis.

Speaking after his discussions with bereaved families, the former Ulster Unionist leader said suicide prevention remains one of his top priorities in government.

"It is very important to hear at first-hand about the devastating impact of suicide and to learn of the services and support available," he said.

"Their dignity and courage, the importance of the message of hope and the support they are providing right across Northern Ireland remains with me.

"I took the opportunity today to express my profound sympathies to the families on their loss and the pain they live with every day.

"I underlined that suicide prevention, mental well-being and mental health services are a top priority for me as Minister."

The government is set to publish a Mental Health Action Plan report to provide a foundation for a Mental Health Strategy before the end of 2020.

Inter-related with this, says the Minister, is the public health concern of drug and alcohol misuse.

"I am committed to bringing forward a new Drug and Alcohol Strategy in the near future," he added.



(JG/CM)

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