‘Investment in suicide prevention is saving lives’ – Wells

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Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
Community, Politics
Health Minister Jim Wells has said that early intervention for positive mental health and wider measures to improve the quality of life are undoubtedly part of the long-term answer to suicide. The Minister was highlighting suicide prevention initiatives being taken forward and the current work ongoing around the development of a new suicide prevention strategy at Contact’s International Suicide Prevention Conference in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. Addressing the delegates at the conference the Minister said, “Suicide remains one of the biggest public health and societal challenges that we face. The suicide rate in Northern Ireland has climbed steadily from 1998 to 2007 and has remained relatively high since then at around 280 deaths annually. “It is estimated there have been over 7,000 suicides in Northern Ireland since 1970. Academics would conservatively estimate that each one of these deaths closely affects another six people. Therefore, over 40,000 people in Northern Ireland have been bereaved by suicide in the last 45 years. “I believe our investment in suicide prevention is saving lives,” he insisted. “The situation would be much worse if these resources had not been made available and put to good use by community, voluntary and statutory agencies. Fortunately, the impact of the economic downturn has not made a difficult challenge even more formidable.” DHSSPS is currently developing a new suicide prevention Strategy that will continue to focus on awareness raising, training, local research, crisis support, and community led services such as counselling and bereavement support. The Minister added, “There is no one size fits all cure to suicide. Psychotherapy, psychiatry, CBT, pharmaceuticals…the list goes on. There are things that I feel are essential that we all have, things we can do, to draw on to save lives. “Just knowing that there’s something out there, knowing there’s somewhere to go without judgment or stigma and knowing that we’ll find the right fit for us. But making the reach can be a battle in itself. It’s the knowing that poor mental health is not a personal flaw or defect and that reaching out is a sign of strength in itself.”

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