‘More needs done to help those in need’

John Scott pictured during his term as Mayor alongside his wife Audrey.
John Scott pictured during his term as Mayor alongside his wife Audrey.
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A former Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, who was personally affected by suicide, has welcomed a new suicide prevention strategy.

John Scott, who served as the borough’s first citizen for the 2016/17 term, has backed the Department of Health’s ‘Protect Life 2’ initiative which was launched on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).

Detailing some of the aims of the scheme, Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, said: “The challenge for ‘Protect Life 2’ will be to substantially reduce suicide rates by 10 per cent by 2024, in line with WHO advice.

“One of the aims is to deliver suicide prevention services and support, with a particular focus on deprived areas where self-harm rates are highest and suicide rates are over 3.5 times higher than those in the least deprived areas.”

Voicing support for the new strategy, Mr Scott said: “A programme like this should have been introduced long ago. I lost two family members and two close friends to suicide over a four-month period. It is a heartbreaking issue, with more people losing their lives to suicide here than during the Troubles.”

The former unionist councillor added: “It is welcoming to hear that additional money has been made available to help support the Protect Life 2 strategy.

“The sooner politicians set aside their differences and return to Stormont, the better. People are continuing to die on our streets and although the strategy is a step in the right direction, I feel more needs to be done to support those in need.”

The strategy is available to download from the DoH website.