Health Minister opens ‘Future Search’ suicide prevention event

Date published: 21 September 2016

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today opened the three day ‘Future Search’ suicide prevention event at Belfast’s Titanic Centre.

Dr Eddie Rooney, PHA - Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and Dr Michael McBride CMO
Dr Eddie Rooney, PHA - Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and Dr Michael McBride CMO

The event brings together individuals from across sectors and areas of work which are related to the complex causes and factors linked to suicide. The event aims to improve emotional resilience in Belfast communities affected by suicide; and improve the response to those who are suicidal in Belfast.

The Minister said: “I have met recently with community representatives from Belfast who have raised concerns regarding the pressures felt by the voluntary and community sector. In particular, relating to those organisations providing services to people living in areas that experience deprivation.

“The Future Search event provides the opportunity to work collaboratively across sectors to identify better ways of working together to improve resilience in local communities affected by suicide and to improve the response to suicidal behaviour.” 

The Future Search process originated in Holland and is designed to help multiple stakeholders in particularly challenging situations to reach a consensus on how best to address issues/problems.

The Health Minister continued: “This event has my full support and I hope that representatives commit to implementing what needs to be done to prevent suicide. I anticipate that the outcomes of Future Search will contribute to the Protect Life Implementation Plan for Belfast from 2017 onwards.”

A consultation on Protect Life 2 – a strategy for suicide prevention in the north of Ireland was launched on 9 September 2016. The new Protect Life 2 strategy aims to improve the identification and response to suicidal behaviour and to prevent suicide by people in crisis. There will be a particular focus on repeat self-harm; and supporting those bereaved by suicide. The consultation can be accessed online and will be open until 5.00 pm on Friday 4 November.

Anyone who is in distress or despair can contact the Lifeline Helpline on 0808 808 8000. Lifeline 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.

Notes to editors: 

1. The title of the conference is Building Hope: Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

2. The Future Search process is a planning meeting used across the world. It has two goals:

  • help large diverse groups discover values, purposes and projects they hold in common
  • enable people to create a desired future together and to start working towards it straightaway

3.  A Future Search usually involves around 60-70 people. Large enough to contain many perspectives and small enough for the group to be in full dialogue throughout the process.

4. For media enquiries please contact the DOH Press Office on 02890 520074, or out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 2397 4383 and your call will be returned.  Follow us on Twitter @healthserviceni

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