21 March 2006

New centre aims to tackle suicide

BBC

A new facility aiming to help those who have lost loved ones to suicide is to officially open in north Belfast.

Pips House at Duncairn Gardens will offer advice and support for bereaved familes as well as those living with someone suffering through self-harm.

Complementary therapies and a range of classes will be available.

Philip McTaggart, who lost his son, Pip, to suicide, said the facility would see organisations working together to help support the bereaved.

"We want to offer a joined up approach in the new centre to tackling the issues surrounding suicide," he said.

"It will be of great benefit to the people of Belfast and is a resource that has not been available in the past.

"We hope to create awareness and break down barriers to the issue of suicide and self harm and hopefully save lives in the process."

Pips House was donated by the Housing Executive to the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm (Pips) Project, which has spearheaded suicide intervention work across the island of Ireland.

Skills training

The house will also be a base for setting up a number of neighbourhood response teams in north Belfast.

Jo Murphy of the North Belfast Partnership Board's Health and Social Well-being Forum said she was delighted with the new facility.

"Dozens of people have given up their time to help us get here," she said.

"Three years on, our vision has become a reality. True partnership working really does pay off, as the opening of the Pips house proves."

She said the centre was a chance to reach out to the community.

"I would be just stuck in the house basically with nowhere to go and no-one to turn to," she said. "You can talk down here, you don't need to hold back, you can open up," she said.

Several families will share their personal experiences at the official opening of the project on Tuesday.

Frank Campbell, the executive director of Baton Rouge Crisis and Intervention Centre in Louisiana, USA, will also give a speech.

He was one of the team of people that trained some of the Pips volunteers to deliver Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

Statistics show that north Belfast has an above average suicide rate.

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