Suicide Strategy welcome, but testament to Stormont failure

Alliance Health Spokesperson, Paula Bradshaw, has welcomed the Northern Ireland administration’s new suicide strategy, Protect Life 2, but warned the failure to form an Executive to take it forward will continue to leave this social emergency untouched.

The South Belfast MLA said: “The suicide rate in Northern Ireland is appalling and constitutes a social emergency, perhaps the single biggest challenge for government and civic society to tackle. It is particularly appropriate that this strategy is launched on World Suicide Prevention Day.

“More people have been victims of suicide this century than were killed during the Troubles, and the resultant social trauma is every bit as marked. There can therefore be no higher priority for elected representatives in Northern Ireland than ensuring that every step that can be taken is taken to preventing suicide.

“Yet, in many instances those with responsibility do the precise opposite of what is required. The continued marginalisation of victims and particular social groups, such as the LGBT community, have a direct impact on well-being and self-worth. In too many instances, life itself is not valued as it should be.

“That the DUP and Sinn Fein continue to dance on the head of a pin concerning non-life threatening issues while the suicide rate rises to among the highest in Western Europe speaks to the skewed political priorities of those with the largest mandates. It is time those charged with the responsibility for tackling the big issues did so, or stepped aside and allowed others to do so.”