BACP’s Four Nations Lead has today called for greater investment in counselling to help drastically reduce suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland.
Steve Mulligan’s comments comes as a long-awaited action plan to reduce Northern Ireland’s suicide rate is published to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.
The new Protect Life 2 suicide prevention strategy sets out a five-year goal to reduce suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland by ten percent, with a focus on deprived areas.
The strategy, published by Northern Ireland's Department of Health, aims to dispel the myths around suicide, including the suggestion that most happen suddenly and without warning. Instead it states early intervention can make a real difference.
The role of counselling is recognised in the strategy, but Steve says there needs to be significant investment to enable more people to access therapy.
He said: “Not a single death by suicide should be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable and we hope this long-delayed strategy will drive greater joined-up action to improve suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland.
“Sadly, the overall mission and associated funding package falls far short of the ambition required to see levels in Northern Ireland even fall in line with the rest of the UK.
“The strategy aims to reduce the existing levels by ten per cent whereas the plan for Scotland aims to reduce suicide by 20 per cent over a similar timescale.
“And while we are pleased to see recognition of the role of counselling in helping to reduce suicide, significant new investment is required to enable greater access to life saving therapy required to even achieve this modest target.”