The Public Health Agency has spent more than £200,000 on anti-suicide measures specific to the River Foyle over the past five years, it has been claimed.
The comment came after SDLP MLA for Foyle, Pat Ramsey asked the former Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Jim Wells, “to outline all spend by his Department on anti-suicide measures specific to the River Foyle, in the last five years”.
In a written response that has just recently been made public, Mr Wells said that funding was provided for a number of initiatives, including Foyle Search and Rescue, technical options to improve bridge safety, and a report on why the Foyle Bridge had become a focus for people who wanted to take their own lives.
The Minister wrote: “The Public Health Agency manages the Department’s allocation of funding for suicide prevention services across Northern Ireland.
“In the last five years (2010-2015) the Agency has allocated £205,000 on direct initiatives to address the problem of suicide on the river Foyle.
“In addition a further £28,000 has been invested in an investigation into technical options to improve safety on the Foyle Bridge.”
A breakdown of this expenditure comprises: Foyle, Search & Rescue, recurrent allocation towards Foyle Search & Rescue core costs, £125,000;
University of Ulster, a study into why the Foyle Bridge has become a focus for suicide attempts, £5,000;
Foyle, Search and Rescue, Suicide Prevention Project, new radio system to help co-ordinate responses to suicidal individuals and/or intoxicated persons near the river or the bridges. Purchase of two jet skis to improve response times and access shallow waters for recovery and rescue, £9,820;
Foyle, Search & Rescue, Improve volunteer recruitment, training, community awareness, and awareness of the water safety, £21,043;
Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre
WH&SCT – to examine how new technology could be used to address health improvement, £10,000;
Derry City Council, contribution to joint suicide prevention programme with the council, including set up costs associated with the implementation of CCTV cameras on the Foyle Bridge, £20,000;
Derry Healthy Cities, Business Case to examine innovative solutions to address how the bridges and rivers could be used to enhance and promote the health and wellbeing of local population, £10,000;
Foyle Search & Rescue, Life Preservation on the Foyle - Volunteer training on water survival techniques and purchase of “dry suits”, £3,655;
Hyder Consulting (UK) Ltd,
investigation into technical options to improve safety on the Foyle Bridge, £28,000.