Belfast City Council Unites To Voice Suicide Concern

A zero tolerance policy is required to tackle drug-related suicide in Belfast, the Lord Mayor said yesterday.

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers spoke out after a meeting of the council attended by all parties unanimous voted to call on the police and Departments of Health and Education to take stronger action in tackling the rising problem.

Department of Health figures earlier this week revealed that more than 500 children under the age of 15 have tried to take their own lives in the past six years.

The statistics also show that about 23,000 people have been treated in hospital after trying to kill themselves since 2001.

Philip McTaggart, from the suicide awareness group PIPS, called for more psychiatric care for children. He said young people with mental health problems needed specialist help.

“We can see clearly that the hospitals are not able to deal with it, they don’t have the trained staff, or beds and, unfortunately, a lot of young people are being sent home with their parents,” he said.

“It is being left to parents to deal with it and that is very unfair.”

Mr Rodgers said suicide deaths have doubled in the past five years.

“The figures now stand at 300 per annum for all ages,” he said. “And about one third of this number of suicides can be related to alcohol and drugs.

“There needs to be a full multi-agency approach to ensure that the proper resources are put in place to bring this situation to an end or even to reduce it.”

Mr Rodger’s said he called for the meeting after the death of Dean Clarke in Tiger’s Bay two weeks ago after a drugs-induced suicide.

“The bottom line is that we do not hear about all the drug-related suicides.”