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Saturday 26th May 2018

£4m funding to tackle suicide

3rd April 2006

The Northern Ireland Health Minister, Shaun Woodward, has pledged more than £4m to be spent on tackling suicide in Northern Ireland over the next two years.

According to figures from NI's General Registrar's Office, the number of people who took their own life soared by almost 50% last year to 213. This made the need to tackle the issue even more urgent Mr Woodward said.

A senior medical post to help tackle suicide and mental health issues will be created as part of this investment.

He said the Northern Ireland Director for Mental Health would work across government and act as a chief advocate for the improvement of the mental health of the Northern Ireland population.

Mr Woodward launched a government suicide prevention strategy entitled "Protect Life", costing almost £2m. This government initiative was compiled from the recommendations of a report into the issue by voluntary and statutory agencies, including input from families in Northern Ireland who have lost loved ones to suicide.

A further £2.4m has also been set aside for the government's suicide prevention strategy for 2007/08.

Philip McTaggart, co-founder of the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm (PIPS), said that part of the problem was that young people were waiting up to three months to see a counsellor.

Mr McTaggart welcomed news of the government funding but said it was a "drop in the ocean" given the increased suicide rate in some of the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland.

Dr Brian Dunn, chairman of the British Medical Association's NI GPs committee also welcomed the initiative, and the involvement of the BMA in the development of a depression awareness training programme for GPs.

In 2003, there were 144 suicides (112 males and 32 females) in Northern Ireland. The following year there was a marginal increase to 146 (105 males and 41 females).





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