Sharp rise in suicide rate in Northern Ireland

There are growing concerns about the suicide rate in Northern Ireland, especially among young men. That’s after figures reached a record level last year.

In other parts of the UK the rates have been falling slightly.

Newsbeat went to one walk-in centre set up for young people in Bangor.

Anyone dealing with a problem, from not being able to find a job, to drinking too much, to being bullied, can drop in here.

‘Ongoing issue’

But advisor Karl Williams says he has seen an increase in the number of young people suffering with depression, and more seriously, those who’ve considered taking their own lives.

“It certainly seems to be coming up more and more now, particularly in young men.

“It has been an ongoing issue in Northern Ireland, certainly since the troubles.”

Unlike other parts of the UK, the suicide rate in Northern Ireland has been rising for a while.

A record 313 suicides were registered last year, and a large percentage of those who died were young men.

Karl thinks some of the problem is caused by a loss of identity.

“There are still issues that go on in Northern Ireland that aren’t happening elsewhere and those underlying issues still have a major effect, particularly on young men.

“There’s pressure on how they fit into society.”

The rise in these figures has been linked to a number of factors, including unemployment and the current economic climate.

Suicide rates are twice as high in deprived areas of Northern Ireland – for young men, it’s often said to be down to the over-use of alcohol and drugs.

One person who visits here regularly is 16-year-old Conor.

Around a year ago he was struggling, he’d got heavily into drink and drugs and it started to have a huge effect on his mental health.

‘Felt unwanted’

“Six months into taking cannabis, I was turning on my family.

“I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I just didn’t think anyone wanted me around at all. I felt unwanted, unloved.

“I thought maybe it was better if I was away and maybe I shouldn’t even be here,” he explained.

Conor managed to get help before it got any more serious.

Adam and Aaron also come here after their friend Jamie took his own life when he was 17. They found him dead one night after returning from a party.

“It’s something that no one should have to see – it will defintely stay with me until the day that I die,” Aaron said.

“I still haven’t come to terms with it. I feel stupid at times for not seeing the signs,” Adam said.