Mental Health spokesperson Robbie Butler MLA welcomes extended funding for the Protect Life 2 Strategy as World Suicide Prevention Day is marked

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Mental Health spokesperson Robbie Butler MLA welcomes extended funding for the Protect Life 2 Strategy as World Suicide Prevention Day is marked

With Sunday the 10th of September marking World Suicide Prevention Day, Robbie Butler MLA has spoken out to welcome the Department of Health’s extension of the Protect Life 2 Strategy, which aims to reduce rates of suicide and self-harm and to deliver suicide prevention services and support.

Mr Butler said, “The Department of Health’s announcement of an extension of funding to be granted to the Protect Life 2 Strategy is essential and necessary to help those struggling most in society. The long-term strategy seeks to target the current suicide rates in Northern Ireland, which have historically been higher than any other part of these Islands. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a knock-on effect on trying to reduce suicide rates but has also substantially impacted many individuals’ mental health. Therefore, the extension of the funding for the Protect Life 2 strategy will allow for additional support to be given to those who require help. We must also ensure that funding and support are ringfenced to further implement the Mental Health Strategy that my Party colleague and former Health Minister Robin Swan set out to help strengthen statutory, community, and voluntary services.

“We know that deprivation and inequality are directly associated with suicide. Regretfully, the failure to achieve political stability as we emerge from our troubled past has hindered true societal recovery and thwarted real change to community prosperity and tackling disadvantage. One of the Protect Life 2 Strategy aims is to deliver suicide prevention services and support focusing on deprived areas where suicide and self-harm rates are highest. A restored Executive should recommit to reversing the high levels of suicide and mental health here in Northern Ireland and ensure that political instability does not hinder the delivery of either strategy.

“As yesterday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, I want to remind people that there is support and help if needed. If you are struggling, I encourage you to speak to family and friends or your GP, who will be happy to listen and help you get the professional help you need. There will always be someone to talk to. Compassionate and professional listening services are available, supported by wonderful volunteers. Samaritans NI are available 24 hours a day by telephone on 116 123, and across our towns, we have amazing local charities such as Emerge and LINKS counselling who do phenomenal work for many struggling individuals. I know many of my colleagues work closely with similar charities. These charities offer fantastic support and resources that are available to individuals who require additional help and support.

“The Ulster Unionist Party continue to be committed to doing everything possible to address suicide and mental health issues. The need for the Assembly to be back and functioning is greater than ever to ensure we continue to provide the right support to the most vulnerable whilst tackling suicide rates and building the best mental health services.”