Northern Ireland

Suicide: Pleas for support after teenage deaths in north Belfast

Days after the deaths by suicide of two teenagers in north Belfast, people in the area have made emotional pleas for more face-to-face support services.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting on Wednesday night, aimed at trying to help young people at risk of taking their own lives.

It took place in the Sacred Heart parochial hall in the Old Park area.

It was organised by a local suicide awareness group called LOST (Loved Ones through Suicide and Trauma).

Opening the meeting, Ellen Barnes said: "LOST is a group of mothers touched by suicide or trauma. Tonight is about letting our young people know that we are here to listen, talk, whatever you need."

Night support

One woman who has previously lost two children to suicide told BBC Radio Ulster: "We have to get something up and running because the community here has nothing.

"Mental health issues in Northern Ireland are the Cinderella of the National Health Service," she said.

Another woman from west Belfast said: "Personally I think there needs to be something at night-time, whether it be from 9pm to 9am, so that people aren't sitting in the likes of the Mater [Hospital] or the Royal [Victoria Hospital] for six and seven hours.

On the verge of tears, she added: "What our kids need is a door that they can go and knock, and the people know why they're there, they don't have to be asked.

"And I know these phone-lines are brilliant but I want somebody to hold my child when they're grieving. It's alright talking on a phone, but you have to put it down."

A number of charities and agencies also attended the meeting and listened to the community's concerns.

Anyone who has been affected by this issue and needs help can call Lifeline's 24-hour crisis helpline and counselling service for free on 0808 808 8000.

Related Topics