Fifth meeting of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention group

Date published: 06 October 2021

The fifth meeting of the Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention took place today ahead of World Mental Health Day.

The fifth meeting of the Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention took place today ahead of World Mental Health Day.

During today’s meeting Ministers heard from families bereaved by suicide through the Families Voices Forum. Speaking afterwards, Minister Swann said: “It’s vital that we continue to listen to, and learn from those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Their knowledge and lived experience is critical to informing the work of the Executive Group and I want to thank the Forum for their contribution.

 “The Forum powerfully highlighted that those who have been exposed to suicide can be at increased risk themselves following this experience. Researchers have estimated that up to 135 people can be affected following a suicide death. This highlights the vital importance of providing widespread support at a local level.”

Ministers also provided updates on their Department’s progress on the Protect Life 2 action plan. 

Minister Hargey said: “The Department for Communities has committed to a series of enhanced suicide prevention measures. This includes mandatory training and close working with local suicide prevention strategy implementation groups. The Department is also delivering a wellbeing programme for our own staff.”

Minister Long outlined work that has been undertaken by the PSNI and the Northern Ireland Prison Service: “Our student officers now complete enhanced suicide prevention training which includes suicide intervention skills, as well as suicide awareness. The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been working to support individual needs for people in crisis or distress. This person-centred approach has resulted in a 20% decrease in self-harm across the Prison Service from 2017-2019.”

The Group also noted the future launch of ComKit which is a digital messaging and communications platform for suicide prevention which will shortly be made available.

 More information on looking after mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at mindingyourhead online

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website.

Notes to editors: 

  1.  The Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide will meet on a quarterly basis. The next meeting is expected to take place in January 2022.
  2.  All Ministers are represented on the Working Group.
  3.  The Group will monitor and report on progress of relevant departmental actions.
  4.  To Group will also examine wider progress in relation to the implementation of the Protect Life 2 Strategy.
  5.  Families Voices Forum are a group of families bereaved by suicide who advocate for the voice of lived experience to be listened to and acted upon through collaborative working approaches.
  6. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:
  7. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt(external link opens in a new window / tab)
  8. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only, between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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