Northern Ireland has experienced significant increases in suicide rates during the period 2001 – 2014 and in 2014 there were 268 deaths recorded as suicide, three quarter of who were male. On the 9th September 2016, the Minister for health launched an eight-week consultation on Project Life 2, a strategy for suicide prevention, encouraging those working in the voluntary and community sector to contribute to the future direction of the strategy.
The VSB Foundation Trustees had been discussing the issue of suicide and were considering what form of intervention would be useful when the Minister’s consultation was launched. In considering the Foundation’s mission to promote social change through strategic interventions that stimulate active engagement, participation and citizenship the Trustees agreed to commission an independent consultant to support smaller organisations to develop responses to the consultation. In addition, the consultant as a second phase of the work was to identify other support needs that the organisations may have.
Madeline Heaney was appointed as the independent consultant and her report on her work – Engagement with Local Community Organisations – is available here.
In September 2017, the Foundation organised a seminar for the organisations involved in the initial process to discuss how to take forward the recommendations in the report. However, without the new suicide strategy interventions by the Foundation would be in a vacuum. The VSB Foundation is willing to discuss with groups how best it might take forward the recommendations in the report and will consider a programme once there is clarity on the Project 2, a strategy for suicide prevention.