22 April 2005


Work still needed to tackle suicides – PIPS

The organisers of a North Belfast based suicide prevention group took part in an all-Ireland exercise to discuss the emergence of a forum to tackle the issues around suicide.
The Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm (PIPS) project took part in the event at the invitation of Teen-Line Ireland alongside other groups from Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Ballynahinch last weekend who gathered to hear of the forthcoming launch of a new 24-hour help line and website.
Joe Barnes, one of PIPS Project co-ordinators said the need for greater resources to tackle the problem was immense.
“Recently another young man from North Belfast was buried as the result of suicide and again, just as recently a young mother from a rural community in County Wexford drowned herself and two of her children, aged three and four, in the River Slaney,” Joe Barnes said.
“Last week there was the funeral of a young man in Kerry who shot himself. Once again we are reminded of the continuing tragedy that transcends all religious, political, social and economic boundaries. It is not just a mental health issue but is something that needs to be addressed by society as a whole and without prejudice.”
In North Belfast, according to the PIPS Project, there have been at least seven suicides since the beginning of the year. In West Belfast that figure is similar. The number of attempted suicides is unknown.
Phil McTaggart whose son Pip took his own life and whose anniversary occurs this weekend, said he was still encountering grief-stricken families who found themselves with nowhere to turn for help.
“People are still coming up against brick walls and being told there aren’t enough beds, or money or resources. This needs to be tackled now because young and old people alike, who are depressed, are taking their own lives at an alarming rate in Ireland.”
In order to tackle the issues at a local level the Pips project has become involved in offering advice and training to interested parties.
Most recently a two-day suicide prevention training course was carried out in NICVA headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills and Training (ASIST) course was completed by over 20 individuals in the Duncairn Gardens based community centre.
The North Belfast Partnership Board and the Executive Programme in Springvale fund the rollout of the ASIST programme across North and West Belfast, which costs £150 per person.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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