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Dad of suicide teen backs BMA plan to help victims

By Lisa Smyth

The father of a teenager who died by suicide has called for the British Medical Association recommendations on mental health provision to be implemented.

Danny McCartan (18) from north Belfast had a long history of depression and self-harm. On the day he hanged himself, he wanted to be admitted to hospital but was refused. A report on his suicide found serious failure of care by the health service.

Since the tragedy in April 2005, his heartbroken father, Gerard, has worked tirelessly alongside others who have been bereaved through suicide to achieve improvements to the mental health provision in Northern Ireland.

“I never want anyone to go through the pain myself and my wife have had to go through,” Mr McCartan said.

“I love Danny, I will always love him. I’m not ashamed of what he did. I’m very, very proud of him but he just couldn’t cope any more. He used to ask me why no-one was taking him seriously and why he couldn’t get any help.

“The government has to take the BMA recommendations seriously.”

Mr McCartan is campaigning for measures including the implementation of the innovative Card Before You Leave initiative.

Mr McCartan said: “People are at their most vulnerable in the days after they have been treated in hospital for self-harming or when they have been discharged from hospital but we have found that they are less likely to do something if they have a date when they are going to be seen again.

“Under the Card Before You Leave scheme, anyone who has been treated in A&E for self-harming or who is being discharged from a psychiatric ward will be given a card with the date of their next appointment before they leave. This will undoubtedly save lives.”

A spokesman from the Department of Health said: “The Health and Social Care Board and the Trusts have recently taken steps to ensure that the Card Before You Leave scheme is in place throughout every acute psychiatric admission unit and each major Emergency Department in Northern Ireland.”

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