TRAGIC TRUTH; 'Over 220 Mental Health Patients Took Own Lives'

Article excerpt

Byline: KATHRYN TORNEY

MORE than 220 people known to mental health services died in suspected suicides, it has emerged.

The figures relate to deaths in Northern Ireland between April 2009 and September 2011.

They were released to investigative news website The Detail by the agency tasked with health service oversight, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

The death toll appears to indicate a dramatic increase in suicide deaths of people suffering from mental health problems compared with statistics collected between 2000 and 2008.

The UK-wide National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness looked into suicides which took place over the eightyear period and was carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Manchester.

Of the 1,865 people who died from suicide in Northern Ireland during the timefame of the confidential inquiry, 533 had contact with mental health services in the previous 12 months - an average of 59 per year.

As well as those who take their own lives, it is estimated that around 13,000 people present with self-harm in accident and emergency departments in Northern Ireland every year.

The Suicide Prevention Strategy for Northern Ireland - Protect Life - was launched in October 2006 with the overall aim of reducing deaths by suicide. …