Families seek help as suicide death-toll mounts
Families seek help as suicide death-toll mounts

The soaring rate of suicides in nationalist areas of Belfast has driven relatives of the victims to picket a health trust meeting, carrying placards demanding action.

At least 15 people have died by suicide in the last three months across north and west Belfast, including a large number of young people.

The protest came 24 hours after one family suffered its third suicide within a year.

There were protesters at the monthly meeting of North and West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust.

It was led by Michael Doherty, chair of the Lenadoon Community Forum in west Belfast, and focused on a lack of funding for community and statutory projects.

Mr Doherty and two mothers who lost children to suicide pleaded with members of the board to take urgent action. Evelyn Gilroy, whose daughter Denise died by suicide four years ago, described how the 28-year-old had continuously sought help.

“I believe I would have been dead myself only for the support I received from the Falls Women’s Project... We are not going away, we will march in the streets until something is done about this.”

Mr Doherty said there had been a similar cluster of suicides in west Belfast six years ago, leading to a series of meetings and a report, but projects are still underfunded today.

The increase in suicides in nationalist areas is thought by some to be somehow linked to the peace process, but little research has been carried out into the problem.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said a fully resourced, community-based suicide prevention strategy was a priority.

“Suicide is causing more fatalities than road traffic accidents,” he said.

“The community in west Belfast is angry at the apparent indifference to the cycle of deaths in this community.”

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