Health Minister meets families bereaved by suicide in north Belfast

Health Minister Robin Swann has met with families bereaved by suicide in north Belfast.

During the visit at the Heuben Centre which he attended with Father Gary Donegan and the Chief Medical Officer, Mr Swann heard personal stories of loss from parents and relatives.

The minister says the issue of suicide prevention is one of his top priorities in government.

  • Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the United Kingdom

North Belfast has recently dealt with a number of suicides, particularly among young men.

"It is very important to hear at first-hand about the devastating impact of suicide and to learn of the services and support available," said Mr Swann.

"One of my very first meetings as Minister was with the Families Voices Forum. Their dignity and courage, the importance of the message of hope and the support they are providing right across Northern Ireland remains with me.

"As the Protect Life 2 Strategy recognises, we have much to learn from those with lived experience and it is right that those experiences continue to inform policy right across government and help shape the services we provide.

He continued: "I took the opportunity today to express my profound sympathies to the families on their loss and the pain they live with every day.

"I underlined that suicide prevention, mental well-being and mental health services are a top priority for me as Minister.

"I welcome support from Executive colleagues, as demonstrated by the formation of a new Executive working group on mental well-being, resilience and suicide prevention. We now need to translate that joint commitment into action."

The minister added that he wishes to bring forward a Drug and Alcohol Strategy in the near future due to suicide and misuse being 'inter-related'.