‘Just one suicide is one too many’

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The grim reality of the impact which suicide and attempted suicide is having on the Newtownabbey area has been dramatically highlighted in figures released by the PSNI this week.

The police statistics, which were obtained through a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, show that the PSNI have responded to 37 call-outs this year in relation to either suicides or attempted suicides in the borough.

In the wake of the figures being released, local political representatives have said more must be done to tackle the issue across the region.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has two designated mental health champions; Deputy Mayor, Cllr Noreen McClelland and Cllr David Arthurs.

Cllr McClelland said: “The statistics relating to suicide or attempted suicide in the borough are both alarming and very disturbing.

“Behind every statistic is an individual, a family and a wide circle of friends.

“For those who have reached this crisis in their lives, the question has to be asked, what services are available for them, are we lacking in counselling services, and why is there a substantial waiting time for help?”

The Social Democratic and Labour Party representative added: “Unfortunately each year we see the number of people, who have attempted, or in fact taken their own lives increase.

“I believe we are failing to address this crisis properly. Suicide is a societal problem which has touched so many lives across this borough and far beyond which we all need to work tireless to address, as a matter of great urgency.”

Commenting on the issue, Cllr Arthurs said: “One suicide is too many- a combination of 37 suicides and attempted suicides is definitely too high. This is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.

“As a council we have been proactive, but there’s more we can do and I feel we need to push harder to do more than we are doing.

“I believe that more money should be put into helping to tackle the issue, but the Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, will say her hands are tied.

The Ulster Unionist Party representative added: “There is help available from charities such as MindWise and the Samaritans and I would urge anyone who is experiencing mental health problems to contact these services.

“MindWise is our official partner and they have centres based in Ballyclare and Antrim.

“MindWise can be reached on 02893341714 and the Samaritans can be contacted on 02890664422.

“We need to promote these services and make people aware that help is available.”