Mental health investment boost urged as suicides rise 19%

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The number of suicides has increased by almost a fifth in Northern Ireland, statistics revealed.

The children’s commissioner said the total of young people who have taken their own lives remained too high and the tally of youngsters self-harming has risen sharply.

Sad Teenage Girl

Sad Teenage Girl

Koulla Yiasouma urged greater government investment in promoting emotional wellbeing.

She said: “Behind every suicide statistic is a tragic loss of a life and devastated families and friends.

“Suicide is a highly complex issue to which there are no easy solutions. The legacy of the conflict and high levels of deprivation and mental ill-health create a uniquely challenging set of circumstances for Northern Ireland.”

Between 2014 and 2015 registered suicides increased from 268 to 318, according to the Registrar General annual report for last year. That was a 19% increase on the previous year.

Just over three quarters of all suicides were males.

Between 2012/13 and 2013/14 there was a 14% increase in under-16s presenting to emergency departments due to self harm, separate figures disclosed.

The commissioner said: “I have been reassured that our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is on the agenda for the Executive Committee and look forward to seeing how the imminent Protect Life Strategy will deal with this issue.

“I have also seen first hand, high quality services with dedicated health professionals working day in and day out with children and young people who have mental health needs.

“However, these recent suicide statistics and the broader emotional and mental health needs of our young people, show that the Northern Ireland Government must, as a matter of urgency, prioritise our children and young people’s mental health and refocus budget to this area of need.”

The registrar report said the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s and other dementias increased by 17% on the previous year, from 1,498 in 2014 to 1,760.

External causes like accidents or suicides were the leading killers in people aged 15-34.

Circulatory disease was the most common factor for those aged 85 and over. Cancer was the main reason for all other age groups.