Mental health champion warns economic crisis driving people to suicidal distress

Northern Ireland's Mental Health Champion has warned that the economic crisis is leading to an increase in those who are in suicidal distress. 

Siobhan O'Neill made the comments as she listened to stories at a north Belfast foodbank which has recently opened. 

The community hub in Skegoneill is open five days a week because of high demand. 

Ms O'Neill said that recent data enforces the link between mental health and deprivation. 

Northern Ireland's most deprived areas have a suicide rate twice that of less deprived places."This is a community in crisis, they are fire fighting here," Siobhan said. 

"It is so tragic this is happening in 2022. 

"We have data that economic crisis leads to suicide distress and increase in suicide. 

"We really need our politicians to step up."

Foodbanks have warned the demand for their services continues to grow.

"People are crying down the phone,"Jenna Kelly who runs the Skegoneill food bank said.

"There are 16 to 90 year olds coming in to our food bank, it is a disgrace."

Teale Stanton lost his job earlier this year and now needs support.

"Bill have been mounting up, I am at the stage of food or heat," Teale said. 

"But then you need heat in order to have food.

"This place has been a lifeline."

From Thursday vulnerable households across the UK will start to receive the government's cost of living payments.

The Department for Communities said most payments should be made by the end of next week.

But those on the ground know the full extent of this; they say it's a crisis that grows in front of their eyes each day.

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