Sinn Féin - On Your Side

World Suicide Prevention Day must mark new commitment to resources

10 September, 2004

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that International World Suicide Prevention Day must mark a new commitment to put in place the resources needed to help people at risk from suicide.

Ms Gildernew said:

"There are not enough resources committed to providing support for people, particularly young people, at risk from suicide. This leaves them exposed to problems of alienation, low self-esteem and social exclusion.

"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 parts of Belfast and in rural communities demonstrates the failure of government to give this problem the high priority it needs.

"Across North and West Belfast and in rural areas such as Fermanagh and Tyrone there are counselling projects which are run on a shoe string budget, with short term funding. Where innovative strategies have been developed for the prevention of suicide they cannot be implemented because of lack of funds. Our mental health services are massively underfunded.

"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. We need action now.

"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.

"The education department, the education library boards and Health and Social Services Trusts specifically need to resource in-schools support services for our young people either through access to counsellors on site or through the use of peer. We need resources for the Education Action Zones to support our schools and young, particularly in making the complex and difficult transition to adulthood.

"People are dealing with the consequences of decades of conflict on top of the many interlinking personal and social difficulties. In many areas sustained generational disadvantage and, on some level hopelessness, make it increasingly difficult particularly young people to take a positive outlook on life and to realise their own full potential." ENDS

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