460 families had to access suicide support

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Four hundred and sixty families bereaved by suicide have requested help and support from the health authorities in Northern Ireland, according to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Services (DHSSPS).

Health Minister Simon Hamilton revealed the huge number of people who have been affected by suicide.

Outgoing SDLP MLA Fearghal McKinney asked the Minister to provide details of “the number of families bereaved by suicide that have requested support using the Sudden Death Notification (SD1) form process to link them to postvention services.”

“A total of 460 families have requested suicide postvention support through the Sudden Death Notification (SD1) process,” replied Mr Hamilton.

The health authorities are committed to providing support for people who have been bereaved by suicide under the sudden death notification system,

According to the Public Health Agency (PHA), a PSNI officer completes an SD1 form which is then sent to an identified HSC lead officer when they attend a death which they consider may be a suicide.

In the western area the Western HSC Trust provides SD1 follow up and wider bereavement support services.

Meanwhile, separately, Mr McKinney’s outgoing Assembly colleague Gerard Diver, recently asked the Education Minister John O’Dowd what work is being done to safeguard the mental well-being among our school pupils.

Mr O’Dowd replied: “The ‘iMatter’ Programme aims to encourage the entire school community to be engaged in promoting resilient emotional health for all pupils.

“Under this programme a suite of homework diary inserts and posters on topics of concern to young people such as self esteem, substance abuse and coping with stress, worry and anxiety, are distributed to schools.

“The diary inserts are also available on the Department of Education website at www.deni.gov.uk and can be downloaded directly by young people.

“Also linked to the ‘iMatter’ Programme is the newly published guidance for schools on; ‘Protecting Life in Schools – Helping Protect Against Suicide’. The focus of this document is the promotion of the many positive and supportive measures that schools can put in place to help safeguard the emotional health and wellbeing of their pupils.

“There is considerable evidential and research information to confirm the position that counselling in schools supports the emotional health and wellbeing of young people. Pupils experiencing stress or emotional problems find it difficult to reach their potential.

“This is why the Department funds the Independent Counselling Service for Schools (ICSS). Pupils can self-refer to the Counsellor within their school, who is there to provide a ‘listening ear’ and who works as an integral part of the schools pastoral care system.”

For more information about Suicide Prevention initiatives in the Western Trust area, please contact the Health Improvement Department on (028) 71865127.

If you or someone you know are in crisis or despair, Lifeline counsellors are available 24/7 via the helpline to provide you with instant support. Contact Lifeline on 0808 808 800.

Or contact the Samaritans on 028 71265511 (local call charges apply) or 116 123 (this number is free to call).