Recently Newry, Mourne and Down District Council announced its aspiration of bringing ‘Suicide Down to Zero’ within our district. 

While realising that this is a very ambitious target to pursue the council believes that it is vital to set no restrictions and be explicit in what it wants for our Council area. For this reason, the Council acknowledges and welcomes the recent launch of the Protect Life 2 Strategy for Northern Ireland. This is a long term, local government plan for reducing suicides and the incidence of self-harm with action delivered across a range of government departments, agencies and sectors. It recognises that no single organisation or service is able to influence all the complex interacting factors that lead someone to harming themselves or, ultimately, to taking their own life.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey said, “It is important that we acknowledge that suicide is a major problem in our society and, also, that it is preventable. The feelings that drive suicide are often temporary. With the right help, people can get through a suicidal crisis and recover to lead a fulfilled and happy life. We know that this is not something that the Council can achieve on its own, we will need the support and assistance of all our partners and stakeholders both in the statutory and community and voluntary sectors.”

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 Cllr Charlie Casey continued, “There is already a huge amount of work going on across these sectors and we are building on this through the ‘Take 5 steps to Wellbeing’ approach, which we deliver in schools and community organisations along with our partners in Health and Social Care and all the organisations carrying out vital work in relation to positive mental wellbeing and suicide prevention.

“Suicide and self-harm affect all ages and walks of life but are also amongst the starkest indicators of inequality here. Suicide rates in our most deprived areas are three times higher than in the least deprived areas and this cannot be allowed to be tolerated.”

Since the formation of the new Council in 2015, around 1500 people have died by suicide in Northern Ireland. In the period 2013-17, Newry, Mourne and Down had a crude suicide rate of 16.1 deaths per 100,000 population. This increases substantially to 22.1 deaths per 100,000 population when analysing the most deprived areas of the district. 

Suicide is preventable, it is not inevitable yet almost every day in Northern Ireland a person dies by suicide.  Every life lost to suicide represents someone’s partner, relative, friend or colleague. Each of these deaths is an individual tragedy and a life changing experience for those who were close to the person.

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