Troubles trauma blamed for Northern Ireland's grim suicide record

A 'peace line' dividing communities in Belfast, one of several that remain in the city. Credit: Reuters

15% of people in Northern Ireland suffer poor mental health as a direct result of the 30-year conflict, new research reveals.

Northern Ireland is the suicide capital of the UK, with young men being particularly vulnerable.

Around 213,000 adults were badly affected by the trauma of 30 years of conflict, the study from the Commission for Victims and Survivors said. 30% of the population suffer mental health problems, nearly half of which directly related to the violence.

Researchers found that a many people suffered minimal long-term mental health issues as a result of the so-called troubles.

University of UIster professor Siobhan O'Neil said the research revealed the ongoing impact of 'trans-generational trauma' - and that children born after the Good Friday Agreement continued to suffer the consequences of poor mental health associated with conflict trauma and living under the ongoing threat of paramilitaries.

A significant number of individuals who directly experienced decades of violence and social deprivation have gone on to develop serious mental health and substance disorders.

Siobhan O'Neill

The Commission made a number of recommendations, including the formation of the specialist services for victims and survivors of the so-called Troubles that were promised in the peace agreement back in 1998. John Beggs, secretary to the commission said:

Commitments contained in the Stormont House Agreement relating to the establishment of a comprehensive mental trauma service and access to high quality services demonstrate the leadership required from our politicians in prioritising the mental health needs of victims and survivors.

John Beggs, Secretary of Commission for Victims and Survivors