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Minister launches consultation on suicide preventation

Margaret Walker, centre manager of the Suicide Awareness and Support Group, launching a new mural at their office of the Falls Road. Picture by Bill Smyth.
Andrew Madden

HEALTH minister Michelle O’Neill yesterday launched a consultation on a suicide prevention strategy for Northern Ireland.

The consultation - Protect Life 2 - coincides with the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day.

“An average of 274 people die by suicide each year here. This is an unacceptable statistic, and a personal tragedy for all those families who have lost loved ones to suicide," she said.

“I want to encourage everyone, particularly those organisations across the voluntary and community sector, who work tirelessly to provide help and support to people in need, to contribute to the future direction of the Protect Life 2 Strategy.

"Suicide prevention is a huge challenge to our society and as minister I am committed to a consultation process that is meaningful and engages everyone.”

The development came as a mural was unveiled on the Falls Road in west Belfast by the Suicide Awareness and Support Group to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

Artist Eoin Maginn designed the piece, which symbolises hope and love, which was unveiled by Deputy Belfast mayor Mary-Ellen Campbell

“There is hardly a family that hasn’t been touched by suicide across this city of Belfast,” she said.

“Raising awareness of this issue and ensuring people in crisis are fully informed about the help that is available is key. It is inspiring to see young people involved tackling the issue of suicide and promoting positive mental health.”

Margaret Walker, centre manager at the Suicide Awareness and Support Group, said: "It is very important to get the positive message out there in the public domain that it is okay to talk and that there is help out there."

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