Ulster Unionist Party Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has given his support to an Assembly motion calling on the Executive to do more to tackle the rising number of suicides in Northern Ireland.
The East Antrim representative said:
“With recorded suicide rates in NI more than doubling in the past 30 years, increasing from 7.7 in 1980 to 17.4 per 100,000 in 2010, it is clear that in the modern society, we face a huge challenge to bring about a reduction in the apparently ever increasing number of suicides.
There has been a significant increase in the numbers of suicides occurring since 2003. I notice according to Mike Tomlinson, that this is against a back drop of lower and generally slowly declining levels in England, Scotland and even the most deprived English region, the North East.
There has been a particular increase in male suicides since 2003. Statistics show that males accounted for ¾ of suicides during the period 1980 to 2011. Some 4201 compared to some 1416 females.
This is a huge number of individuals and families who have been affected. A single incident of suicide effects many people.
I welcome the call in the motion to the Executive to do more. Whilst the DHSSPS has a lead role, many other Departments can also help address the issue including Education, Justice, Agriculture, Culture Arts & Leisure and the OFMDFM.
Mike Tomlinson in his recent Knowledge Exchange seminar pointed towards the legacy of the conflict as being a major contributory factor. But unfortunately, so long as we have active Paramilitary groups inflicting pain and punishment, mental scars will also be inflicted.
I would call on everyone to help end violence and to unite as a community entirely reliant on the criminal justice system and on purely peaceful means to address issues. I am confident that with an end to violence, and active support from the local community and all Executive Ministers and departments, we can tackle this issue and reduce the numbers affected by suicide.”