Belfast Telegraph

Report raises concerns over suicide rate in Belfast

People in Belfast were 40% more likely to commit suicide than elsewhere in Northern Ireland, new research shows.

Many had a record of suicidal thoughts and relationship problems, a study for the Public Health Agency (PHA) found.

More than half were unemployed and around a third had mental health problems.

The report said: "There is a need to record better, and to link and standardise information.

"Deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland are far from random events, as is evident from the analysis in this report - and the search for a better understanding of the systematic element in these deaths should be maintained.

"Efforts should more closely target those areas, identified in this report, where suicide rates are much higher."

The research was carried out for the PHA based upon the coroner's database of deaths in the years 2005 to 2011.

Key results included:

:: Around 50% of the sample had either a recorded prior suicide attempt or a record of suicidal thoughts;

:: Over 80% had a recorded medical prescription;

:: The major adverse event recorded before death was relationship problems;

:: Over half of the individuals in this sample were recorded as having been unemployed at the time of death;

:: Approximately 36% of the sample had mental health problems.

Amongst the adult population, over the seven years of the data examined, approximately one in every 1,000 citizens has taken his or her own life.

Deaths from suicide were 40% higher in Belfast than the Northern Ireland average.

The report added: "A reason to live also implies that social and psychological capital requires both a societal and an individual response, and this in turn requires us to establish and maintain social norms that can enhance the lived experience."

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