North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the Health Minister must ensure that Moyle district is provided with adequate suicide support services in line with the high rate of suicide in the area.
He was speaking after meeting local community group SOLAS along with Ballycastle Councillor Cara McShane.
He said: “Figures from the Public Health Agency clearly show that the rate of suicide in Moyle (over a 5 year period) is the third highest in the north behind only Strabane and Belfast council areas.
“This is a very stark statistic and given that the rate is double that of districts such as Banbridge and North Down then I think there is clearly an argument that there should be more backing from the Department of Health and other government agencies for local groups that deal with issues such as mental health and suicide prevention.
“The highest number of suicides in the north is amongst the 35-44 age group (for both male and female) and the number of registered suicides here has rose from 148 in 1991 to a shocking high of 313 in 2010.
“We need additional support to reduce suicide prevalence here and the Health Minister needs to take cognisance of these statistics when considering requests for further funding for services that tackle issues concerning mental health and wellbeing.”
Cllr Cara McShane added: “SOLAS were formed in 2010 in response to the alarming number of local suicides. It was very encouraging to hear today of the services and courses that they are aiming to provide here to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in this area.
“The high prevalence of suicide here is not something that we can ignore, indeed it needs to be a priority for the local council and all agencies involved in health and well-being in the community.”