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Council motion aims to put pressure on Secretary of State to publish suicide strategy

255 lives tragically lost to suicide in Newry, Mourne and Down over past 10 years

Suicide person alone

Secretary of State Karen Bradley is expected to be asked to intervene and publish a long-awaited suicide prevention strategy delayed by the political impasse.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council may write to Ms Bradley insisting she take the initiative in the absence of a fully-functioning Executive.

It is due to debate a notice of motion calling for such action when the monthly meeting takes place on Monday.

The motion is being brought forward in the name of three Ulster Unionist Councillors, David Taylor, Robert Burgess and Jill Macauley.

They will be seeking the support of councillors of all parties as they aim to insist action is taken before more lives are lost unnecessarily.

The motion points to the fact that Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate of any region within the UK.

And, over the last 10 yeaars, the UUP trio’s notice points to 255 lives having been tragically lost and families devastated as a result of suicide within the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area alone.

The motion asks that the council reach out to “remind anyone who may be in distress or despair that support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, and “urges anyone who may be experiencing suicidal ideations to immediately contact their GP or any one of our brilliant mental health charities”.

The councillors also hit out at lack of funding being spent on mental health services across Northern Ireland, describing this as still “wholly inadequate”.

And they ask that the council “expresses outrage that the ongoing political impasse at Stormont has meant that Protect Life 2 – the new strategy and action plan to reduce our suicide rate – has still not been published due to the absence of a local Minister”.

If councillors agree to support the motion, they will be lending their support to the Ulster Unionists’ calls for a letter to be sent to the Secretary of State.

In this they would seek to emphasise to Ms Bradley that the “current situation is unacceptable and to urge her to intervene to secure the immediate publication of the strategy”.

The motion will be tabled on Monday for consideration at the October monthly meeting of council.

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