People taken off bridge can go to A&E or PSNI station

Gary Middleton and Stacey Ross pictured with a fresh petition calling for a detox centre for Londonderry.
Gary Middleton and Stacey Ross pictured with a fresh petition calling for a detox centre for Londonderry.

Bond’s Street care worker Stacey Ross has launched a fresh petition for a detoxification centre for Londonderry after witnessing a young man jump off the peace bridge in an attempt to take his own life.

Stacey told the Sentinel that, like many in the city, she has personally experienced the trauma of suicide in the past but was prompted to take on this new initiative after witnessing another act of desperation in the heart of the city.

“It started out a couple of weeks ago when I witnessed a young fellah going into the river at the Peace Bridge,” said Ms Ross.

“It’s a big thing to us because we’ve experienced it ourselves and I just decided to do something.

“There’s not enough services in the town. People are suffering from alcohol and drugs problems, bullying is another major problem, people also have money problems.

“The mental health in the city is awful and there is no help for people.”

DUP MLA Gary Middleton, who has raised the problem of suicide in his constituency at the Stormont Assembly, is backing Ms Ross’ initiative.

He told the Sentinel: “When people are pulled off the Peace Bridge there are two places they can go: A&E or the PSNI station.

“We need to help people. We need services for those suffering from drugs, alcohol, financial problems, whatever it might be.”

Ms Ross said almost 1,000 people have signed her petition already.

“We have 900 signatures after the first few weeks,” said Ms Ross.

“The petition’s available in local shops and in the DUP office .”

The Waterside woman’s initiative is the second major petition to call for a detox centre for Londonderry in the past year.

Campaigners for a full suite of detoxification services for Londonderry last year presented an unprecedented petition signed by 48,000 people to the former Health Minister Edwin Poots on June 30.

Meanwhile, Mr Poots’ successor Jim Wells recentlymentioned the alarming phenomenon of people trying to take their own lives at the Peace Bridge at Stormont.

“Another issue that I will highlight relates to the fact that the majority of those who commit suicide in the Londonderry area do so in the river,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency (PHA) said: “If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info

“More information on looking after your mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info.”