Belfast Telegraph

Shock rise in number of suicides

Suicides in Northern Ireland reached a record high last year, it has been revealed.

A total of 313 people took their lives - six times more than those killed on the roads, Health Minister Edwin Poots said.

The shock rise was disclosed as Mr Poots called together key figures from the community and voluntary sectors at a special workshop in Belfast to discuss what action could be taken to tackle the growing crisis.

The minister, who recently met suicide prevention experts in New York, said there was a suicide prevention fund which amounted to £6.7 million.

The workshop examined several areas, which included drugs and alcohol, ethnic minorities, the role and impact of social media and communications access to mental health services, early intervention and family support.

Mr Poots said Northern Ireland's protect life strategy was being refreshed and updated to make it more robust and effective. Details would be published later this year.

The minister added: "Meeting with voluntary and community groups provided an invaluable opportunity to discuss this issue and look at what further action can be taken. These groups provide support for vulnerable people and families bereaved by suicide and are best placed to understand the needs of their local communities."

Dr Eddie Rooney, chief executive of the public health authority which organised the workshop, said: "Suicide and self-harm is a major problem which effects individuals and families right across Northern Ireland.

"Those working on the ground are often best placed to see the needs and provide local solutions and it is vital that we learn together from their experiences."

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