18 'killed by one-punch attacks' in Northern Ireland

Injured man on stretcher The campaign warns death or serious injury can be caused by one punch

Eighteen people have died in Northern Ireland from "one-punch attacks" in the past seven years, police have said.

The PSNI has launched a new poster campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Targeted at men aged 18-25, it highlights the risks of getting involved in an argument or fight which could lead to serious injury or death.

Det Ch Insp Karen Baxter said the majority of such incidents were fuelled by alcohol.

"With just one punch, lives have been destroyed and families lives have been wrecked," she said.

"Raising awareness of one punch is timely given the number of students and young people who are embarking on a new term at college or university across towns and cities in Northern Ireland.

"As Halloween and the festive season approaches it is a very busy time socially for people - our message is to enjoy their night out, but most importantly - to stay safe."

The campaign has been backed by the Belfast Health Trust and by Victim Support NI.

Dr Russell McLaughlin, clinical director for emergency care at the trust, said: "I have been treating the victims of injury for many years and unfortunately I am all too aware of the potentially fatal consequences of a single blow to the head.

"This campaign has the potential to save lives and prevent disability in young adults who, unfortunately, tend to be the victims of serious injury and assault."

Susan Reid, chief executive of Victim Support NI added: "We see the consequences of these thoughtless acts and we understand how far-reaching the impact can be for victims, their families and friends as well as people who witness the incidents.

"We wish it didn't happen but if it does we are here to help people with support, practical help and any information they need."

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