Out of hours safe space for individuals suffering mental health difficulties.

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Northern Ireland has the highest percentage of suicides per population than anywhere else in the UK or Ireland. Over recent years suicide in Northern Ireland has increased significantly and it affects people from all classes, cultures, religions, gender, and ages.

 This epidemic requires radical reform and action using a targeted multi-agency approach. Our frontline medical and mental health staff show us on a day by day basis their commitment and dedication when working with the most vulnerable people in our society. We are increasingly seeing inspirational members of our communities engage in social justice campaigns by undertaking awareness raising and engaging on a grass roots level around suicide awareness and prevention.

This campaign began in October 2017 by myself a Social Worker who has seen on both personal and professional levels the devastation that is often created as a result of suicide. Unfortunately, time and time again, we see individuals feeling unable to communicate their distress, and we see families, friends and communities confronted with the loss of their loved ones.

 In October 2017, I was reassured by the public health agency that an out of hours safe space and mental health triage service was to be commissioned and piloted in a number of areas throughout the country. Unfortunately, 2 years later we are still left without a safe space for individuals to go to if they are feeling suicidal. In that time, our suicide rates continue to rise. We continue to see media outlets developing petitions, community organisations calling for reform and even with such extensive efforts the only developments we are seeing are the tragic deaths of vulnerable individuals in our communities.

 I am calling for you to collaborate alongside me. I want the permanent secretary for health Richard Pengally  to address this epidemic in the absence of a sitting executive and allocate funding to pilot an out of hours mental health safe space here in Northern Ireland. I am calling for cross party support to ensure all of our local representatives can get behind this campaign calling for an out of hours safe space to be commissioned as a matter of urgency. 

 Your support, time and efforts in raising the profile of this campaign is greatly appreciated lets all work together to get the vital supports required.