Belfast Telegraph

We need more funds to help save lives, warn Northern Ireland health chiefs

The Department of Health has said suicide prevention remains a key priority but more funding is needed to improve awareness and training
The Department of Health has said suicide prevention remains a key priority but more funding is needed to improve awareness and training
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The Department of Health has said suicide prevention remains a key priority but more funding is needed to improve awareness and training.

Four months ago the department published its Protect Life 2 strategy to tackle Northern Ireland's suicide problem, with greater focus on those bereaved by suicide, more support for those who care for others and enhanced working across departments.

Health bosses say suicide prevention requires work across a range of settings and services and combined knowledge, expertise and resources of departments and differing sectors is vital to cut suicide rates here, which are higher than in other UK nations and the Republic of Ireland.

A new Protect Life 2 Regional Steering Group has been set up, currently chaired by the Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride. The DoH says Protect Life 2 focuses on suicide prevention as a societal issue and seeks to ensure collaborative cross-departmental engagement to address risk factors for suicide and self-harm, as well as engagement across wider society.

Currently £8.7m is invested in suicide prevention by health chiefs each year.

An additional £1.35m has been provided this year through the transformation programme to take forward the Towards Zero Suicide initiative in HSC Trust mental health services, the Multi Agency Triage Team collaboration between PSNI, NI Ambulance Service and two HSC Trusts and crisis de-escalation initiatives.

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