Belfast Telegraph

Suicide line heard 211,000 calls

More than 211,000 calls have been made to a suicide crisis response line in Northern Ireland in just three years.

Callers to Lifeline are referred to other services, including counselling, mentoring and befriending therapies.

In 2009, 260 suicides were recorded, of which 205 were men.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "Every suicide is an absolute tragedy and has a profound and devastating impact on families, friends and their local communities.

"I am particularly concerned that the current economic downturn will place added pressure on vulnerable people."

Mr McGimpsey said more than 211,000 calls have been made to the crisis response line by people of all ages since it was established in January 2008. West and north Belfast has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK.

In England and Wales, in the 10 years from 1990 to 2000, suicide was a serious concern for almost 19,000 young people who called Childline, the organisation said in a separate archived report.

Apart from Northern Ireland's crisis response line, Mr McGimpsey has overseen the development of community response plans to tackle suspected suicide clusters such as north Belfast.

Mr McGimpsey met other ministers on Thursday to discuss efforts to prevent suicide.

He said: "However, our local suicide rate remains high and we need to think innovatively about what more we can do across Government to tackle this problem. Today's meeting provides us with the opportunity to consider what further contributions we all can make on this most important issue."

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