Belfast Telegraph

Belfast has NI's highest suicide rate, figures show

By Mark Bain

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust area has the highest level of suicide in Northern Ireland, according to a new Department of Health study.

The 2018 Public Health NI Fact Sheet revealed the Belfast Trust area had a rate of suicide death of 24.7 per 100,000 people between 2015 and 2017.

The Northern Trust had the lowest rate at 13.3.

Northern Ireland as a whole had a suicide rate of 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Karen Collins, chief executive of Aware NI, said the figures were not surprising. "We've know for some time the number of people living with depression in Northern Ireland is higher than in the rest of the UK, but the funding is not at the levels elsewhere," she stressed.

"This is not something we should sit back and accept. There needs to be a commitment to long-term funding to deal with the issues being faced in society.

"I have no doubt our health trusts are taking the situation seriously. There are mental health and suicide strategies, but there's no way of addressing budgets and assigning contracts to deliver the services without a functioning Assembly.

"The number of stories of families devastated by suicide keeps growing despite the efforts of groups like Aware NI, but the important thing to remember is that help is available - it's okay to not be okay."

The Belfast Trust area also had the highest rate of hospital admissions for self-harm, with 181 per 100,000 people between 2013/14 and 17/18.

Other parts of the study showed that life expectancy in Northern Ireland remained unchanged from the previous year, at 78.5 years for men and 82.3 years for women.

The Belfast council area had the lowest male and female life expectancies, at 75.8 years for men and 81 years for women, while the nearby Lisburn and Castlereagh council area had the highest, at 79.8 years for men and 83.4 years for women.

SDLP health spokesman Mark H Durkan MLA said the disparity between life expectancies highlighted that much work was still needed to address health inequalities.

"This is not a failure of the health department or our trusts, but of government, or now lack of government, to address economic inequalities across the region," he added.

"Increased investment in more deprived areas is vital."

In 2017/18 there were 24 admissions to hospital per 100 people, while 18% of people admitted to smoking and 77% to drinking alcohol.

Belfast Telegraph


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