Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride has made clear that suicide prevention remains a priority for the Department of Health, with new initiatives continuing to be implemented.
Dr McBride stated: “The new strategy - Protect Life 2 – has now been finalised but to date we have been unable to publish this without Ministerial endorsement.
“The Department is currently exploring all options to progress the strategy, and to enable further development of Protect Life services to support those most vulnerable in our society.
“Publication of the finalised Protect Life 2 strategy in its entirety would of course be beneficial; however, it would be totally wrong and misleading to suggest that support for those who need it is being compromised because of any delay in its publication.
“Not only would this be factually incorrect, it could send out a misleading and even potentially dangerous message to those in need. Help is available and much is being done to further develop services, despite pressures on resources across the health and social care system.
“Protect Life 2, as the name suggests, is an enhancement and development of an existing strategy, Protect Life. This strategy remains in place and its budget is protected. The Public Health Agency continues to invest over £8m a year to deliver suicide prevention, and emotional health and wellbeing services.
“In addition, a number of new suicide prevention initiatives which are part of Protect Life 2 are being funded separately under the wider transformation proposals.
“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 at www.lifelinehelpline.info or NI Direct at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/mental-health-emergency-if-youre-crisis-or-despair. You can also talk to your GP for advice.”
Notes to editors:
- The Lifeline 24/7 crisis response helpline transferred to Belfast HSC Trust on 1 April 2018 and is available for anyone in distress or despair.
- A Belfast crisis de-escalation pilot service will commence in early 2019. This will be an out-of-hours facility providing a ‘safe place’ for individuals in crisis. It will provide de-escalation support over a period of hours following presentation to ED or community and voluntary sector providers. A similar pilot led by Derry and Strabane Council is also expected to start shortly.
- A street triage pilot commenced in July 2018 in the South Eastern Area. This involves a multi-agency triage team who are available to respond to people in emotional crises who have accessed the 999 system.
- A new programme to enhance post primary pupil resilience is planned to commence in 2019/20. A programme to embed mental wellbeing in further and higher education is also planned to commence in 2019/20.
- In total for 2017/18 there were 14,932 participants who attended and completed training in a chosen mental health and/or suicide prevention area.
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