‘Huge gap in mental health provision’

Dee Quigley addressing those who attended a cande-lit vigil in Galliagh to remember those who died by suicide last year.
Dee Quigley addressing those who attended a cande-lit vigil in Galliagh to remember those who died by suicide last year.

A Derry Councillor has warned that there is a massive gap in mental health provision after a series of shocking episodes in the city over recent weeks.

Derry Strabane Independent Councillor Dee Quigley said that medical professionals and the government needed to take the situation more seriously.

Colr. Quigley said there have been a number of very serious incidents in Derry recently which have again highlighted the need for greater resourcing of emergency response facilities locally.

Colr. Quigley pointed to the case of a young local teenager who took an overdose three times last year.

“This was reported to the doctors,” Colr. Quigley said. “She threatened to kill herself again recently and they took her to A&E.”

Colr Quigley said that the girl was discharged within hours and given two tranquilliser type pills. She had since been moved to a facility in Belfast, after the intervention and persistence of her family and others who were able to help them.

Colr. Quigley said that children having to be moved 75 miles away for treatment or services was “an indictment of our mental health capacity to be able to deal with young people in distress”.

“They are being taken out of their comfort zones and being placed in a strange and scary environment.

“Surely this would only compound the mental health issues instead of helping them,” he said.

Colr. Quigley also pointed to the case of a 19-year-old boy who was taken to the doctors by his mother only to be told there is nothing wrong.

Colr. Quigley said the boy ran out of the surgery and was later referred to mental health services at Gransha

Colr Quigley said that the same boy had recently been found with alcohol and in the equipment which pointed to him being just about to try to take his own life.

He said: “Mental health practitioners in this area need to start taking this issue more seriously.

“I am aware that the Mental Health team have set up a crisis unit and I welcome that. It might be too late for some people who have lost family members ,but more needs to be done.

“If these issues are not dealt with in a proper and professional manner, the possibility is that some mental health professional is going to lose their license.

“We could possibly have an Inquest where it emerges that the help and support isn’t there.

“We pay our National Insurance for our health service so we should be demanding this health service as much as cancer services and heart services.

“There is a massive gap in provision.”

Colr Quigley’s comments come just over a year after his own nephew Andrew Quigley was recovered from the River Foyle. The 19-year-old tragically died by suicide after battling addiction.

Earlier this month, Derry woman BeBe Johnston- who lost her son Eamonn (22) to suicide back in 2007- had also called for greater emergency intervention services to deal with the situation locally .

Ms. Johnston spoke out ahead of a special Mass she has organised for local families and others affected by suicide in the north west.

The Mass in memory of those who died by suicide will take place at St Eugene’s Cathedral next Wednesday,March 4th at 7.30pm and is open to everyone.