Collaborating Against Suicide Is Vital Says Poots

A collaborative approach across all governments departments and agencies is the key to reducing suicide rates in Northern Ireland.

That was the message from Health Minister Edwin Poots as he hosted the 8th Ministerial Co-ordination Group on Suicide Prevention yesterday afternoon. The Minister said; “Suicide awareness and prevention is a key issue not just for my Department but the entire Executive along with many government agencies. We all have a role to play and we must continue to work together to reduce suicide rates across Northern Ireland. It is an immensely difficult and challenging task that has no single quick fix, but together we can make a difference.

“My Department has been working with other government departments and agencies to develop innovative ways of addressing suicide and helping people to maintain positive mental health.”

[caption id="attachment_32099" align="alignright" width="240"]Minister Edwin Poots. Minister Edwin Poots[/caption]

The wide-ranging programmes across government department and agencies include:

*   DHSSPS works with DCAL and DARD to promote positive mental well being in rural communities, including health checks at farmers’ markets;

*   DCAL, through Sport NI, has commenced a suicide awareness project to raise awareness of suicide within the sporting community and provide suicide awareness training to sports providers. DCAL has also provided direct funding of £30,000 each to the PIPS and Niamh Louise Foundation for the provision of suicide awareness training through sports clubs;

*   DEL is focused on helping people develop their skills and assisting them into work, which is a known protective factor against poor mental health

*   DoJ is working to enhance suicide prevention in prisons with a focus on providing an ongoing support service to prisoners following assessment of mental health needs and suicide risk when they are first imprisoned

*   DE is rolling out its iMatter programme to promote pupils’ positive mental health and wellbeing

*   DSD through its Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, supports a range of projects and programmes that provide services to address the many complex issues surrounding suicide prevention and mental health.

The Minister added: “Too many families have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one through suicide and I extend my deepest sympathies to them. We will continue to provide services to help bereaved families cope with their loss.

“But we need to prevent more families from experiencing such tragedy and I am encouraged by the willingness and co-operation of all my Executive colleagues to deal with this issue. We must never lose our resolve to reduce the number of people taking their own lives and I will continue to make this a priority for my Department and the Executive.”