More funding and resources needed to tackle mental health after spate of sudden deaths involving young women

Philip McTaggart said more funding is needed. Picture by Hugh Russell.

THERE were calls last night for more funding and resources to address mental health issues in west Belfast following the sudden deaths of two young mothers.

A mother-of-four, in her thirties, died suddenly at her home on Tuesday.

She died after a mother-of-three, who was also in her thirties and lived nearby, was found dead.

It is thought the women, both from west Belfast, may have known each other.

Following the deaths the Public Health Agency said it had been “participating in discussions with the local community and key stakeholders in the area as part of a community response to assess people’s needs and help ensure that the required support is put in place.

“The Public Health Agency  will continue to work on the ground with partners to keep the situation under review,” it said.

Philip McTaggart, who runs Mindskills Training, an organisation which works to promote positive mental health, said funding is needed.

“It is particularly tragic that this is two young women, who were mothers and given the time of year, as we approach the festive season,” Mr McTaggart, who lost his son Philip to suicide in 2003, said.

“There’s concern in the community around mental health and suicide. People know this is happening all the time and for every death, 60 people are directly impacted.

“The system is broken and it needs fixed.”

Mr McTaggart said there needs to be “a major injection of resources and funding to tackle this issue”.

Sinn Féin MLA Orlaithi Flynn, the party’s spokeswoman for mental health and chair of the all-party group on suicide prevention, described the recent deaths as a “tragedy”.

“Our community will do everything we can to rally around and support the families at this very sad and traumatic time,” she said.

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said: “More and more people are experiencing mental health problems.

“It is vitally important that people who are experiencing despair or distress reach out services such as Suicide Awareness Support on Falls Road or Lifeline 0808 808 8000 who will listen and support you in confidence.

“These organisations are very experienced in dealing with many issues including trauma, suicide, self-harm, abuse, depression and anxiety. You can call about anything and you will get support.

“It is important organisations such as Suicide Awareness and others get the resources to support people in need.”

:: Anyone in need can contact Samaritans on 116 113 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

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