Northern Ireland

Alcohol link to increased suicide rate in NI

Professor Louis Appleby
Image caption Professor Louis Appleby has expressed concern

Alcohol abuse is a major factor contributing to people taking their own lives, according to the findings of an inquiry.

The 'Suicide and Homicide in Northern Ireland' report was carried out by the National Confidential Inquiry.

It will be launched on Wednesday by Health Minister Edwin Poots.

It aims to improve mental health services in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health says more than three hundred people here took their lives last year, the highest figure ever recorded in Northern Ireland.

Professor Louis Appleby is from the University of Manchester which led the research.

He said: "It is a concern that Northern Ireland suicide rates are high by UK standards. It is also a concern that they have been rising whereas in other parts of the UK suicide has been falling."

The report has shown there are clear links between alcohol and the increased suicide rate.

Professor Appleby said: "Of all the patients who died by suicide, 60% were thought to be misusing alcohol by their doctors. About half of these were alcohol dependent."

Dr Uzma Huda, Vice Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland said there needs to be a minimum pricing for alcohol.

She said: "We can no longer afford to ignore the growing trend linking alcohol and suicide, particularly in young people."