The recent release of the Registrar Generals report reveals that once again Newry Mourne & Down area ranks second in Northern Ireland for suicide deaths in 2017. Across Northern Ireland 305 deaths were recorded up from 298 from 2016.
There is a reported 100 suicides in Belfast and 28 in Newry Mourne & Down. Analysis of the overall figures confirm the common gender pattern that three times as many males to females ended their lives by suicide (234M :71F).
The impact of the loss of a loved one to suicide is known only to those who have suffered that loss. Due to the stigma and taboo attached to suicide one Author commented that families were left with a “Special Scar”.
Recent research indicates that up to 135 people are significantly impacted by each suicide death. Friends, work colleagues,neighbors,acquaintances and of course family.
The economic cost of each death has been calculated to be on average £1.67 million. This means that aside from the pain that families will endure, to some extent for the rest of their lives, there is a huge economic cost.
Since Stormont was suspended, District Councils are the only tier of government that still operate in northern Ireland. A draft suicide prevention strategy entitled “Project Life 2” has been completed but cannot begin to be implemented until a local health minister approves it.
Some organisations on the ground argue that no one is showing the leadership that is required to really prioritize this phenomenon. David Smith, Chair of the Downpatrick based Suicide Down to Zero group commented “Newry Mourne and Down council need to take a radical approach to tackle suicide head on”. They could be the first council to adopt a suicide down to zero approach.
We in Suicide Down to Zero call on the Councillors and Officers of Newry Mourne and Down council to act now and adopt a down to zero approach. We believe there is a groundswell of public support for suicide prevention initiatives. We cannot wait forever for Stormont for a strategy that is not bold enough.