Belfast Telegraph

Charity in mental health plea after two 'suicides' at Belfast hospital

This month has seen two possible suicides at the Royal Victoria Hospital
This month has seen two possible suicides at the Royal Victoria Hospital

By Lisa Smyth

A charity has called for more to be done to improve mental health services following two possible suicides at a Belfast hospital.

PIPS said greater action is needed to help people in crisis, with one worker revealing that children as young as six have come forward looking for help to cope with suicidal thoughts.

PIPS has called for an overhaul in the way mental health services here are delivered.

It follows two possible suicides at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

It is understood a woman, believed to be a member of staff, was found in a toilet cubicle at the hospital having suffered an overdose on April 11.

The PSNI said detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death, but said it was not being treated as suspicious.

It is also investigating a separate sudden death of a man at the hospital on Thursday, which police said is also not being treated as suspicious.

The Belfast Trust has not commented on either death.

Claire Thompson from PIPS said: "What is happening in Belfast at the moment is no different to what is happening every other year.

"There are 300 deaths through suicide in Northern Ireland every year; you're five times more likely to die by suicide than on the roads.

"And the fact is that these deaths are preventable.

"Suicide rates in Northern Ireland have doubled over the past 20 years, while England, Scotland and Wales have seen a decline."

Ms Thompson said the legacy of the Troubles continues to contribute to high suicide rates here.

"Exposure to a traumatic event linked to the Troubles increases the risk of a person experiencing suicidal thoughts," she said.

Ms Thompson also said a lack of services for addictions to alcohol and drugs play a part in the high suicide rate.

"We don't have a specialist inpatient unit in Northern Ireland, which would be extremely helpful," she said, adding: "There is only one mental health nurse in the whole of Belfast who assesses people in a mental health crisis.

"It can take about five hours for them to get to see someone who is in crisis and that's simply not good enough.

"This also means that a lot of police resources are tied up dealing with keeping people safe when health professionals are not available.

"There are also more and more young people presenting, there are even children as young as six expressing a wish to die.

"It is hugely distressing that this can happen.

"We would like to see more services put in place, although at the same time, it is important to recognise the amazing work that is being done out there.

"There are a lot of charities and other organisations working to help support people in a mental health crisis.

"However, this is an issue that we must do more to tackle - the effects of suicide are devastating, and we know that a person who is directly affected by suicide, they are three times more likely to go on and make an attempt on their own life."

Anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis, or who feels they need support can telephone Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or ring the Samaritans on 116 123.

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