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Young need suicide prevention help too

Recent NSPCC research showed there were 13 suicides in 2014 among 15 to 19-year-olds in Northern Ireland. This number per head of the population is substantially higher than other parts of the UK and is a cause for concern.

Our Childline annual report published this week shows the number of counselling sessions on the subject more than doubling over the last five years.

Our counsellors were contacted about suicide nearly 350 times last year by children in Northern Ireland. Young people tell Childline that their suicidal feelings often increase alongside a developing situation - such as the loss of a relative or friend, gradual breakdown of a relationship and loneliness. Abuse in childhood is also linked directly to mental health issues.

At Childline, we hear from many young people who feel that they have nowhere else to turn. Many are forced to deal with their problems alone.

We cannot, however, be a stopgap for professional statutory services. While we will always be there to help, we can't provide them with the medical care they often so desperately need.

The NSPCC's It's Time campaign is calling on health authorities and our elected representatives to ensure that all children who have suffered abuse receive timely and robust support to prevent them developing mental health conditions. Any suicide prevention strategy in Northern Ireland must also include children and young people as a priority.

Mairead Monds

Childline Services Manager in Northern Ireland

Ban on vaping ads a self-defeating move

Cambridge University states that "exposure to advertisements for e-cigarettes may decrease the perceived health risks of occasional tobacco smoking, prompting concern that this may lead more young people to experiment with smoking" (E-cigarette adverts may lead young to smoke: study 06/09/16). The key word in that statement is "may". There is no actual evidence linking the advertising of vape products to a rise in young people vaping or smoking.

What we do know, according to Public Health England (PHE), is that the number of people smoking in England has hit the lowest levels on record. As ASH made clear, the most recent survey found the lowest recorded smoking rates among children ever. Far from "exposing" children further to adverts for vape products, under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, it is now not possible to advertise vape products online, in newspapers, on the radio or on television. Far from being a positive development, this simply restricts smokers' access to information about a product recognised by the Royal College of Physicians and PHE as being 95% less harmful than smoking.

Richard Hyslop

Chief executive, Independent British Vape Trade Association

Christians can't deny reality of evolution

Paul Burns (Sept 8) calls evolution an infection. This is probably because he assumes it is an unhealthy and incorrect belief.

In actuality it cannot be reasonably denied that evolution is evident in nature today. Most of us will have taken antibiotics at some point in our lives, and owing to those who quit the course prematurely we have many new strains of microbes which have developed resistance - MRSA is quite a famous one.

Environmental pollution produces many more examples. Moths in polluted inner cities have darker wings to blend in. Birds have evolved different breeding times to cope with climate change.

The truth is that evolution is real, current, and all around us. Those who wish to adhere to a selective literalist interpretation of the Bible are free to do so, but they have no right to deliberately misinform the wider public on accepted scientific theory.

Honest Man


Rookie cops in exam row showed initiative

With reference to Deborah McAleese's article (September 8), I do not condone the actions of those PSNI students who cheated. Their actions could be viewed as displaying initiative, a quality that all officers should possess. Their actions also highlighted shortcomings within the PSNI examination system.

Those that cheated should be sanctioned in some form, but to be "sacked on the spot" as advocated by Ross Hussey MLA would indeed be too harsh. As we travel through life, we all make mistakes.


Co Down

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