Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Government's new strategy on suicide to make real difference

Last Thursday, Philip McTaggart stood at his son's graveside to remember his 21st birthday and tell him what a proud dad he was.

Last Thursday, Philip McTaggart stood at his son's graveside to remember his 21st birthday and tell him what a proud dad he was.

But it was a bitter sweet experience for the north Belfast man.

In April 2003, his 17-year-old son Pip took his own life and Philip was determined to do something to tackle the ever growing problem of teenage suicide.

It prompted him to set up the Pips Project, a cross-community support group that is now helping countless families.

And this morning at the start of World Suicide Prevention Day, he'll be told his efforts - and the efforts of like-minded people - will finally be rewarded.

Health Minister Paul Goggins is today announcing the setting up of the Suicide Strategy Implementation Body after a lengthy consultation process that began in March.

Mr Goggins said the new group will be responsible for driving forward recommendations which have already been discussed.

He is looking forward to working with the body so they can all begin to impact on the high levels of suicide in Northern Ireland.

Philip said: "My wee lad would have been 21-years-old on Thursday. As I stood at his graveside I thought a lot about the work that has been done through the Pips Project.

"I was always proud of Philip and I know he'll now be proud of everything our group has achieved in supporting so many families.

"His grave is surrounded by the resting places of several teenagers who also took their own lives. The sad thing is they didn't feel they had anyone to turn to.

"It's too late now for me and other families who have been bereaved through suicide, but what we can do is forewarn others of the dangers and maybe, just maybe, they might recognise a sign that something is wrong."

? The Pips Project can be contacted on (028) 90 755070.

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