Health Minister Robin Swann held discussions in north Belfast today with family members of people who have lost their lives through suicide.
The meeting at the Houben Centre was hosted by Father Gary Donegan.
The Minister said: “It is very important to hear at first-hand about the devastating impact of suicide and to learn of the services and support available. 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.
“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.”
Mr Swann continued: “As detailed in the New Decade New Approach agreement, a Mental Health Action Plan will be published, providing a foundation for a Mental Health Strategy before the end of 2020.
“Drug and alcohol misuse represents another serious public health concern, inter-related with suicide prevention and mental health. I am committed to bringing forward a new Drug and Alcohol Strategy in the near future.
“I also want to urgently examine the potential for significant expansion of the Multi Agency Triage Team partnership between the Health and Social Care sector, PSNI and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. This initiative currently provides on the spot mental health support to people who are in emotional crisis in the Belfast and South Eastern Trust areas.”
Further Ministerial meetings are also planned with charities on suicide prevention and drug and alcohol addiction.
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