Suicide Groups Take Issues To Rights Experts

Suicide and self-harm support groups from north Belfast presented their findings on issues mental health service users face in accessing mental health care to an international panel of human rights experts.

Entitled Rights in Action: Changing Mental Health Services, the event involved members of Public Initiative on the Prevention of Suicide (PIPS) and RAYS (Reaching Across to reduce Your risk of Suicide).

The group was mainly made up of family members bereaved through suicide and the event was an integral part of the work of the Participation and the Practice of Rights project, which provides local communities with support in using a human rights-based approach to address social and economic inequalities and deprivation.

Some of the changes the group said they wish to see include increasing the number of mental health patients receiving a follow-up appointment from hospital within a week – and also increasing the number of mental health services users satisfied with information from GPs on problems and on medication prescribed to them.

The panel also heard how the group wants to see a higher level of involvement of mental health service users in decisions made about such services.

Gerard McCartan, whose son Danny took his life in 2005 at the age of 18, is a member of PIPS, a group set up in north Belfast to support families bereaved through suicide.

He said that such locally-based groups can provide invaluable insight and experience – and that their views should be used to inform current service provision and Government policy.