At the Leisure & Development Committee of Council this evening Cllr McCandless brought the following motion forward to Council. Although it was passed at the meeting it still has to be passed by full Council.
“That this Council notes that Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the U.K. and that in the last ten years ( records compiled to 2007 to 2016 ) there have tragically been 191 lives lost and families devastated in our former legacy councils and in our new Borough Council. It is incumbent upon us to remind anyone who may be in distress or despair that support is available 24/7 and to urge anyone who is having suicidal thoughts to immediately contact their G.P. or signpost them to any of our mental health charities.
We note that funding on mental health services across Northern Ireland remains wholly inadequate and we express our outrage that the ongoing political impasse of Stormont has meant that initiatives like Protect Life 2 – the new strategy and action plan to reduce our suicide rate – has not been published due to the absence of a local Minister.”
Councillor McCandless went onto say “In light of this I propose that this Council write to the Secretary of State to emphasise to her that the current situation is unacceptable and to urge her to intervene to secure the immediate publication of the strategy.
More people in N. Ireland have died by taking their own lives since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement than from violence during what we euphemistically refer to as “ The Troubles “. Suicide rates in N. Ireland have risen at a much faster rate than the rest of the U.K.
Figures produced by the Samaritans report that suicide rates in the U.K. have increased by 3.8% since 2014 – however the number of deaths attributed to suicide in N. Ireland have increased by 18.5% during the same period.
Male suicides are more common with men in the 30-35 age bracket making up the largest group.
We can well ask the question what factors lead to this alarming and increasing suicide epidemic. A report published by U.U. Mental Health Sciences by Siobhan O’Neill points to “ The Troubles “ as the most significant factor.
Nearly 40% of the population of N.Ireland witnessed a traumatic event associated with
“ The Troubles “ – 18% had witnessed someone dead or seriously injured.
The evidence is well worth reading and studying.
So to conclude, if we look at the legacy of “ The Troubles “, mix with that a critical lack of mental health funding, inability to tackle the high rates of deprivation and unemployment, a spiralling increase in alcohol and drug dependency, no or low level of academic qualifications among many of our young males particularly in Loyalist areas – all these factors contribute to the increase in suicides.
4500 people have taken their lives in Northern Ireland since “ The Troubles “ ended.
The Headline in The Guardian earlier this year read N.I. Suicide outstrip Troubles Death Toll. This crisis needs to be tackled.
Where is the duty of care to Northern Ireland – we need adequate funding and action now! We are facing a major problem which needs to be tackled immediately.”