Police Visit Young People Named On Net ‘Suicide List’

Police and social workers have visited young people whose names appeared on a list alongside suicide victims. The unusual step was taken in the Armagh area amid concerns for their welfare and following the deaths by suicide of three teenagers from the area.

The list includes the names of several young people from the area who recently took their own lives and has fuelled rumours of a suicide pact. The list was found by police investigating the rising number of suicides in the Armagh the area. Just last week a teenager in Armagh city committed suicide.

Police and social services visited the homes of young people in and around Armagh city thought to be at risk of suicide or self harm. In a joint statement, the PSNI and Southern Health and Social Care Trust said a number of people were offered advice on personal and internet safety.

In June, 15-year-old Wayne Browne took his own life in the village of Laurelvale. Three weeks later his friend James Topley killed himself at the same spot. The community was dealt a further blow when Lee Walker from Tandragee also committed suicide in similar style. All three boys were pupils at the same school and their deaths sparked rumours of a suicide pact.

Newry and Armagh SDLP Assembly member Dominic Bradley described the discovery of a list as “extremely worrying”. “Whoever is responsible is playing with the minds of young people and is increasing unnecessary pressure on the vulnerability of local youths,” he said. “Recently, we have all seen the heartache of youth suicide in the Armagh district and none of us want to see that repeated.”

The number of suicides in Northern Ireland has increased significantly in the past year. There were 291 in 2006. Armagh City Councillor Mealla Bratton said she was shocked by the discovery of a list.

She said: “Too many local families have had to deal with the untimely loss of their loved ones through suicide and none of us want to see that to happen to any other family or community. I would urge anyone who may be able to assist police in this investigation to come forward immediately to put an end to this torment for so many local youths.”

Councillor Sharon Haughey, a member of the Southern Health Council said she was “shocked and sickened” by the list. Research published by the University of Ulster urged internet providers to ban or control websites which could encourage suicide.

The call follows meetings between health minister Michael McGimpsey and representatives of Google, Bebo and Vodafone. Mr McGimpsey has said he feared the sites were being used to organise suicide pacts.