Derry man appointed suicide strategy chair

ZEST Co-Director, Conor McCafferty, has been appointed Chair to the Suicide Strategy Implementation body for the North. (LS03-114KM)
ZEST Co-Director, Conor McCafferty, has been appointed Chair to the Suicide Strategy Implementation body for the North. (LS03-114KM)

Derry man, Conor McCafferty, has been appointed Chair of the Suicide Strategy Implementation Body (SSIB) for the North.

Mr. McCafferty is the Self Harm Interagency Network Coordinator and Co-Director of Derry based suicide and self-harm charity ZEST. He has worked with the organisation for 17 years.

Mr. McCafferty’s appointment was made public by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) on Tuesday morning.

A qualified therapist and counsellor, Mr. McCafferty told the Derry Journal that he was delighted with the appointment and was excited to be part of the SSIB body.

“It’s great recognition for the work we [ZEST] carry out,” said Mr. McCafferty.

“The role enables me to not only advise the DHSSPS on their strategy for suicide but I will be able to challenge them as well, which is a good thing.”

Originally from Magazine Street, Mr. McCafferty will turn 62 next week. The way in which society views and deals with issues arising from suicide and self-harm are made less difficult thanks to the work carried out by organisations like ZEST but Mr. McCafferty believes there is a tremendous amount of hurdles yet to be overcome.

“A new strategy will be made public in the not too distant future. The group involved in coming up with the strategy comprised around 40 individuals from organisations including the Public Health Agency, the Health and Social Care Northern Ireland, DHSSPS, the community and voluntary sector and families affected by suicide and self-harm. I also intend to have a leading role in the implementation of the new strategy and will do so from a position of action, understanding, compassion and hope.

“I am really looking forward to the role and all that it entails. Like I said, it’s great for ZEST and it’s great for Derry,” said Mr. McCafferty.

Speaking about the appointment, Health Minister Jim Wells said: “I welcome the appointment of Conor who has been involved in suicide prevention and self–harm work over a long number of years, and is highly respected in this field.

“Every single suicide is a tragedy and we must continue to do all we can to support people and tackle this issue. The Suicide Strategy Implementation Body, brings together statutory, voluntary and community representatives to oversee the rollout of our local Protect Life suicide prevention strategy, and is an essential part of the joined up working which will be required if we are to successfully combat the high local suicide rate.”