Suicide to Zero strategy in life-saving initiative

Suicide to Zero strategy in life-saving initiative

2 October 2019

A LEADING charity which aims to reduce suicide rates across the district to zero has unveiled details of its new four-year strategy.

Formed five years ago, Suicide Down to Zero has been playing a key role with its increasing profile helping getting its message across to local people.

Mr Pat McGreevy, who helped launch the charity five years ago, said there was no acceptable rate of suicide.

He explained that the number of suicides in the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area is on average 25 a year, the second highest only to Belfast in terms of deaths.

Mr McGreevy said the charity felt it apt to launch the new strategy at the home of Kilkeel-based  Mourne Matters — which offers workshops, signposting and support services, alternative therapies, counselling, education and training, nurturing physical and mental wellbeing — as it is the midway point between Newry and Downpatrick.

The charity said the newly launched initiative refocuses its work in the council area, recognising that local councils are currently the only tier of functioning government in the province.

Mr McGreevy also expressed disappointment that the Department of Health’s new Protect Life strategy aims to reduce suicides by 10 per cent.

“Around 300 people die through suicide each year in Northern Ireland,” he continued. “This means that if, over the course of five years, 1,500 people die the Protect Life goal to save 150 lives is simply not ambitious or a radical approach.

Mr McGreevy said the local charity’s four-year plan hopes to encourage organisations and individuals across the district to pursue the New Economics Forum’s Five Ways to Wellbeing initiative with Suicide Down to Zero providing training to enable those who provide care to intervene and keep a person safe from the immediate danger of suicide.

In addition, the charity is also supporting the development of more active models of aftercare following the death of a loved one through suicide.

Mr McGreevy added: “Many people believe that those who die through suicide or who may have suicidal thoughts are mentally ill, but that is not always the case. 

“There are many factors involved when someone chooses to end their life and mental illness is just one of them. Everyone needs to know what is factual and what is not about suicide.”

Welcoming the launch of the new strategy, Mr Hazzard said there could be few families in society who had not been touched by the pain of suicide either directly or indirectly. 

He said Suicide Down to Zero was building on the “fantastic work” it had already done in raising awareness around the issue.

Mr Hazzard said the charity was updating its strategy aimed at saving lives by reducing the numbers of people who die by suicide in the Newry, Mourne and Down area to zero. 

“The seven-point plan aims to support groups and individuals who are working in the field of suicide prevention and ultimately save lives,” he said.

“I want to commend everyone working to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention to remind people there is always help out there and there is always hope.”