Over a relatively short period of time an unusually high number of young people in the city have been committing suicide, with their deaths having serious and reverberating effects in their local communities.
Between 1999 and 2008 rates of suicide in northern Ireland saw an increase of 64 per cent. This rise was most noticeable among men between the ages of 15 and 34 with a notable number of suicides occurring in disadvantaged areas. Of the total number of suicides in Northern Ireland in 2002, 76 per cent were male, 60 per cent of whom were aged between 15 and 34. A similar pattern continued over the next few years and when last recorded in 2008, 77 per cent of suicides were found to be male and 72 per cent of individuals who took their own lives were between 15 and 34 years old.
There are various theories as to why the suicides have risen so dramatically, one of which involves the long-term impact of deprivation in some communities and issues with ”post-conflict” society.
Samaritans’ trustee and professor of health policy research at the University of Edinburgh Stephen Platt, explains:”The suicide rate in Northern Ireland appears to have increased after the end of the period known as the Troubles. Previous studies have shown that suicides decrease during periods of war because people feel a sense of integration in their communities while uniting against an adversary. When war ends, this feeling falls away to the detriment of mental health.”
There are various other social factors which may have an impact on the levels of suicide, for instance the recession, unemployment and budget cuts can result in a downward trend in mental health among communities.
Families who are living in areas which have seen an increase in rates are concerned that the authorities are not doing enough and have called for more ”proactive outreach” approaches to suicide prevention. Experts have also recommended that more is done to ensure those in need are aware of the advice and services that are available to them.
If you are having suicidal thoughts then it is essential that you visit your GP as soon as possible so they can provide you with professional advice and support. Your GP may be able to prescribe you medication which could help, or they may refer you to a counsellor or therapist to enable you to outlet your feelings. If you would like to contact and talk to a counsellor independently then please visit the homepage of this site and use the search tool to locate a qualified counsellor in your local area.
Samaritans UK Helpline: 08457 909090