6 April 2006 Edition

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Suicide prevention funds to be monitored

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, has said that the British government's announcement of an increase in funding to tackle suicide rates in the Six Counties "will require careful monitoring" to ensure delivery. The decision to give £1.9 million to suicide prevention groups over the next 12 months came only days after it was revealed that the number of people taking their own lives in the Six Counties soared by almost 50% in the space of the last year.

Gerry Adams, whose West Belfast constituency is one of the areas suffering most from suicide tragedies, said that any positive moves made by the British government came only after intense lobbying by bereaved families, community activists and Sinn Féin.

"The statistics around suicide in the North, and on this island, make for appalling and frightening reading - and West and North Belfast have suffered disproportionately. For example, there was an average of 9.8 suicides per 100,000 persons per year from 1999 to 2003. But in West and North Belfast this figure rose to 18.1 and 17.9 respectively, almost twice the Six County average.

The West Belfast MP also pointed out that suicide is the largest killer of males from non-disease related causes.

"It is crucial that all the recommendations of the task force are fully implemented. I also welcome the decision to improve on the all-Ireland approach and to increase cooperation between the two health departments. This makes sense", Adams said

In a further development, a new report has revealed that a quarter of gay and bisexual men in the North have attempted suicide because of homophobia. The report, Out On Your Own, also stated that 30% have self-harmed, while over two-thirds have considered suicide.

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