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Kelly demands action on suicide after latest death

20 May, 2005

North Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly today called for urgent action to tackle the growing suicide crisis. Mr Kelly's call came after he attended the funeral of Declan McCluskey, a North Belfast man, who took his own life earlier this week.

Mr Kelly said:

" This morning I attended the funeral of Declan McCluskey who tragically took his own life earlier this week. This was the second time that suicide had affected the McCluskey family, with Declan's brother taking his own life nine years earlier.

" Suicide is currently causing more fatalities than road traffic accidents. This is a national scandal. Areas like North and West Belfast are being disproportionately affected by suicide. The communities in these areas are angry at the apparent indifference to the cycle of deaths within our community.

" We urgently need a plan to tackle this issue. That must be a priority. The time for encouraging words and promises is over. The Health Departments in Belfast and Dublin must begin to realise that the public want urgent, strategic action on suicide prevention.

" The British government have conceded in recent meetings with our party that there remains a £2million deficit in funding for mental health services in this city. Despite this they have no plan to bridge this gap. The budget for mental health services currently only makes up 2% of the entire health budget. This sort of approach is simply not good enough and must change if we are ever to put together an effective programme to tackle this issue." ENDS

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