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Gay mental health issues in focus

VICTORIA O'HARA

A member of the gay community in Northern Ireland has spoken of the need for greater awareness of mental health support for young gay people.

It comes as figures show that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Northern Ireland can be up to three times more likely to self-harm or attempt suicide.

Ahead of the launch of Outburst, Belfast's annual LGBT arts festival, Ruth McCarthy, its director, said "better openness" is needed on mental health issues. For its seventh year, the Outburst Arts Festival, which begins on Friday, will partner with charity Lifeline to raise awareness of the issue.

Ruth (42) said it was vital the stigma is addressed.

"It's so important that we talk about this and let people know that there is strong support available in times of need through services like Lifeline."

Ms McCarthy said despite huge steps being taken in equality more can still be done.

Outburst runs from November 15-23 at The Mac, QFT and other arts venues. For more visit www.outburstarts.com.

To contact Lifeline you can call free on 0808 808 8000.

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