Chief Medical Officer opens 24/7 crisis support centre

Date published: 10 September 2015

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, has today officially opened the Nightingale Crisis Support Centre in Belfast.

Led by FASA (Forum for Action on Substance Abuse), the Nightingale Centre will provide a 24/7 service for those in distress, offering a safe place in their community to go if they suffer a mental health incident.

Speaking on World Suicide Prevention Day, Dr McBride said: “Sadly, there are some people who feel so low that suicide can seem like the only way out and each year in Northern Ireland, we lose around 280 people to suicide, this is many times more than are killed on our roads each year.

“Suicide is a tragedy for our community as well as personally for the lives it touches. Each life has incalculable value, leaving behind grieving loved ones. Yet, nearly all suicides are preventable.”

Facilities at the Nightingale Crisis Support Centre, located in east Belfast, include a welcome suite for assessment and conversation; calming room, for mindfulness, relaxation and grounding, TV, music, reading material; interview rooms, library and computer suite. Services include befriending and peer support, holistic therapy and telephone crisis family support.

Dr McBride continued: “The evidence shows that social isolation can increase someone’s risk of suicide. FASA identified a gap in service provision for those who suffer a mental health incident out of hours and, as a result, the Nightingale Centre will operate 24/7, 365 days a year, a new unique concept for those people at risk of suicide and self harm.

“By providing essential help and support during the night, the Nightingale Centre aims to avoid missed opportunities, offering vital care to people in distress at a time when they feel most isolated and have nowhere else to turn.

“The Nightingale Centre strongly reflects this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day theme of Reaching Out and Saving Lives and I commend FASA on this innovative new initiative and for its continued work in suicide prevention.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The World Health Organisation estimates that around 800,000 people around the world die by suicide each year.
  2. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day - a day to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention initiatives.
  3. This year marks the 13th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day. The 2015 theme is Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives. The theme reflects the fact that the act of showing care and concern to someone who may be vulnerable to suicide can be a game-changer.
  4. FASA was formed in 1995 by local parents in the Greater Shankill area to support and co-ordinate services in relation to substance misuse. It now provides services for those affected by substance misuse, suicide, and self harm. Services are delivered across Belfast, Bangor, North Down and Ards with some services provided on a Northern Ireland wide basis.
  5. Media enquiries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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