Suicides among teenagers in Belfast are a big problem. It is a huge tragedy when a teenager takes their own lives. Northern Ireland has had the largest suicide rate in the UK for the last few years. In West Belfast in 2015 the suicide rate doubled in young people from the previous year. What are the special problems faced by young people?
Many teenagers have been struggling with low mood and anxiety. Cyber bullying can increase suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Drugs and alcohol add to the problems. Between one third and one half of all suicides involve alcohol. Removal of normal inhibitions can follow alcohol and drug abuse. The actual suicide is often impulsive following a stressful event. Many will have made a previous suicidal attempt. Suicide can be precipitated by news of another person’s suicide.
Chrissy Our Youth Worker
TALKS ON OVERCOMING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
I frequently do talks on overcoming suicidal thoughts. In these talks I mention that intense suicidal thoughts may be short lived. For example, when barriers were erected on the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the suicide rate dropped by fifty percent but those people whose lives were saved did not actually end their own lives. Often a person does not actually want to die but cannot face the intensity of the struggles that they are going through. Connecting with a young person going through a crisis is often the first step and there are many initiatives being taken here. It is important to recognise red-flag signs of possible impending suicide and also look at ways of keeping a person safe. I talk about these in my book Mindful of the Light-practical help and spiritual hope for Mental Health
There has been much research to show that those who regularly practice a religious faith have lower suicide rates than those who do not and I will hope to discuss this in a future article. The church I belong to (Every Nation Church Belfast) is keen to reach out to teenagers. Building resilience in the lives of young people and helping them connect to a religious basis for life can be important factors in helping to prevent TEENAGE SUICIDES IN BELFAST.