SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has responded to figures that suggest the suicide rate in the North is up by 100 per cent. Mr. Durkan was speaking following a parliamentary debate on the issue at Westminster on Wednesday.
“The revelation this week that the incidence of suicide in Northern Ireland has doubled over the last fifteen years will sadden many but surprise few,” he said.
“What it must do, however, is focus the minds and concentrate the efforts of us as politicians to do all that we can to tackle what is fast becoming an epidemic.
“According to statistics it takes around 300 lives a year. There are no statistics, however showing how many lives it destroys or the devastation it causes in families and communities. The impact of suicide is immeasurable. Behind every one of these 300 are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, friends all left trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of the inexplicable.”
Mr. Durkan explained that if society is to tackle the issue of suicide head on they must try to understand its causes.
“Suicide is an extremely complex issue. No two lives are the same and no two deaths are the same. Links have been made between the dire economic outlook and the increase in suicide. Without doubt deprivation and lack of hope are factors and factors that can be affected by government, but there is much more to it than that.
“Some are attributed to stress, relationship breakdown, poverty and struggles with addiction. Some shock and baffle everyone with no indication given that anything was wrong.
“Many organisations work tirelessly and work well: reaching out to people in despair and helping them through their darkest hours.
“These groups must be better resourced and while they are great at listening, they need to belistened to. Access to mental health services must be improved and more work done to banish the stigma still attached to mental illness.
“I do not question the commitment of the Health Minister or of any party to tackling suicide but it is apparent that more can be done and more must be done.”