Wells’ worry over suicide levels in city

Mr Wells addressed the issue at Stormont on Monday after meetings with the Western Trust and Foyle Search and Rescue.

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

“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.

“I congratulate the Western Trust for taking action on that. For instance, it is putting up cameras at the appropriate spots to identify those who perhaps are considering suicide.

“The trust is making signs on the bridges - it really is the bridges that are concerning - more informative by giving warning to those who are considering taking such drastic action.

“Foyle Search and Rescue has told me that the vast majority of people who it rescues have not slipped but have jumped into the river and are contemplating suicide.”

The Minister also revealed that 72 per cent of people who take their own lives are not known to the health services.

“72 per cent of those who commit suicide in Northern Ireland are totally unknown to the health and social care system.”

“That shows you how difficult it can be to identify those who have mental health issues that can lead to suicide.”

However, an alarming statistic is that nearly half of people who have subsequently taken their own lives have presented at A&E Departments but have not been identified as a risk.

“What is even more worrying is that over 40 per cent of those who subsequently committed suicide had presented to A&E and were not picked up as suicidal during that visit.

“The Western Trust was concentrating on that,” said the Minister.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency (PHA) said: “If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

“This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary.

“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.”