NI suicide prevention strategy aims to reduce deaths by 10%

A woman feeling under stress
A woman feeling under stress
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A plan has been unveiled to reduce Northern Ireland's suicide rate by 10% in the next five years

Published today by The Department of Health - ‘Protect Life 2’ Suicide Prevention Strategy - sets out the plans to reduce suicide and self-harm over the next five years.

Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, said: “Suicide is preventable and not inevitable, yet almost every day in Northern Ireland a person takes their own life.

"Whilst suicide rates here have remained relatively stable over the last decade the level is without a doubt unacceptably high.

"How we address this is a challenge for all in government and society. I am pleased that permanent secretaries across the NICS have indicated their support for this strategy.

“The challenge for ‘Protect Life 2’ will be to substantially reduce suicide rates by 10% 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.”

Currently £8.7 million is invested on suicide prevention each year.

An additional £1.35 million has been provided through the transformation programme this financial year.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride added: "We have already seen the positive difference that some of the new initiatives from the strategy are making to people’s lives.

"The Multi Agency Triage Team is working in partnership with the Health and Social Care sector, PSNI and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to provide on the spot mental health support to people who are in distress.

"This programme has recently been expanded and is now available in the Belfast and South Eastern HSC Trust Areas.

“In addition, a ‘Towards Zero Suicide’ initiative has recently been introduced in all HSC Trusts and has a focus on patient safety in adult mental health. Similar initiatives in other parts of the world have seen significant decreases in suicide rates.

“The toll suicide takes is not just measured in lives lost and anguish for families and communities. There is also an estimated wider societal cost of £1.55 million for each life lost. Right across government we must continue to prioritise investment in prevention.”

The Protect Life 2 Strategy is available to download from the DoH website at www.health-ni.gov.uk/protectlife2