Belfast Telegraph

Drink and drugs fuelling Northern Ireland suicide rates: study

Alcohol and drugs are fuelling homicide and suicide rates in Northern Ireland, an independent report said.

The problem is greatest among young people, with mental illness, substance abuse, drink, previous self-harm and deprivation contributing to most cases, the University of Manchester study added.

There were 332 suicides of young people over a nine-year period. Last year the number of suicides reached its highest figure ever.

Author Professor Louis Appleby said: "In homicide and suicide generally, alcohol misuse was a more common feature in Northern Ireland than in the other UK countries.

"A broad public health approach, including better dual diagnosis of mental illness and alcohol or drug misuse, health education and alcohol pricing, should be seen as key steps towards reducing the risk of both homicide and suicide.

"In particular, there needs to be a focus on developing new services for young people with substance misuse problems."

A total of 1,865 suicides occurred in the general population in Northern Ireland between 2000 and 2008, equivalent to 207 per year. This rate is higher than the UK average but lower than that in Scotland.

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