'Emergency meeting' to be held in Belfast today to discuss teen suicide crisis
AN "emergency meeting" is to be held in Belfast today to discuss the increasing number of suicides among young people.
The Northern Ireland Youth Forum said it had organised the discussions as its staff are "working around the clock trying to keep young people alive".
Chris Quinn, director of the NI Youth Forum, said: "The Christmas and New Year period has been one of the worst I have ever witnessed working in the voluntary sector.
"We should be declaring a youth mental health emergency."
In a letter to MLAs and other stakeholders inviting them to the meeting, Mr Quinn said: "We have been in casualty and hospital waiting rooms with young people who despite attempts to take their own lives are being denied access to beds and mental health support services.
"We have witnessed at first-hand practice that could be described as negligent.
"Over the past number of months, we have laid several young people to rest who have died as a result of drug addiction and suicide. The rates of suicide and self-harm are at epidemic proportions and we beg for immediate intervention."
He said today's meeting will include young people, family members as well as youth and community workers with experiences of the impact of mental ill health, suicide and self-harm.