Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Gerry Adams demands increased support to tackle suicide

3 August, 2004

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams last night visited the family of Fiona Barnes. Speaking this morning Mr. Adams said:

"I would like to extend my own and Sinn Féin's sympathy to the entire Barnes family circle, and also to Fiona's many friends.

"Too many families have suffered the deep hurt and trauma of bereavement following the suicide of a family member or friend. Greater efforts must be made to tackle this problem."

The Sinn Féin West Belfast MP said:

"Over the past number of months Sinn Féin and community organisations have been lobbying intensively for money and support to deal with mental health issues. The continued high levels of suicide and self harm across north and West Belfast demonstrates the failure of government to give this problem the high priority it needs.

"Sinn Féin is therefore seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister of Health to urge her to speedily release the necessary funds which are urgently needed by the organisations working to help those at risk of suicide and their families.

"Across North and West Belfast there are counselling projects which are run on a shoe string budget, with short term funding. Several years ago a strategy for the prevention of suicide was developed for North and West Trust. This has yet to be fully implemented because of lack of funds. One project alone in Lenadoon has a waiting list for help of 120 people and the Trust itself has acknowledged that it is underfunded by £3 million in its mental health services.

"We have been told that this is a serious and complex issues for Government Agencies. We are told that plans are being drafted. We are told that budgets are being identified. This isn‚t good enough, the deaths continue.

"If the British Government and its health agencies are serious about tackling this issue; if they are serious breaking this cycle and about ending these deaths, then they must invest in services which promote positive mental health, which support people in distress and support the families affected by suicide and self-harm. Our communities need the support, we need the resources and we need them now." ENDS

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