President Opens Belfast Suicide Prevention Centre

Irish President Mary McAleese has praised those who have put their "hearts and hands" into the formation of a north Belfast suicide prevention centre.

President McAleese (pictured here by Paul Reilly) officially opened the new PIPS centre on Duncairn Gardens this afternoon.

She was joined by her husband Martin, as well as several local politicians.

PIPS was established in 2003 in response to the increasing number of suicides and incidents of self-harming in the area.

The centre, which has since received two premises from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, provides support, advice and relevant 'sign-posting' to those at risk.
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Speaking at today's ceremony, President McAleese said suicide is no longer a taboo subject. She stressed the importance of bringing those affected by incidents together so information and experiences can be shared.

"We need to move away from saying someone committed suicide. It is no longer a criminal act, but there is still a terrible stigma attached to it. We need to share experiences, bringing people to the table, to make voices heard," she said.

"It's important people know, that even when they feel like they have no-one, someone is there to talk."

Mrs McAleese lauded Philip McTaggart who she said has been instrumental in the formation of the centre.

Recognition was also given to Des and Ann Rice, who together have raised almost a quarter of a million pounds in funding.

East Belfast assemblywoman Dawn Purvis said she hoped young people across the city and political divide would benefit from the service.

Ms Purvis planted a 'Tree of Live' during the ceremony.


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