News and events News Northern Ireland suicides outstrip Troubles death toll More people have taken their own lives in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement than were killed in political violence during the Troubles between 1969 and 1997, the latest regional figures on suicide reveal. The statistics on the state of mental health in the region show that since the peace deal about 4,500 suicides were registered in the region. An estimated 3,600 people died in shootings, bombings and other killings during the Troubles. Campaigners and experts will present these figures on suicide, self-harm and other problems to MPs at Westminster on Tuesday. They will express concern over what they say is Northern Ireland’s “worsening mental health crisis”. The experts, who include representatives from the Royal College of Psychiatry, will call for initiatives including a new regional trauma centre in order to deal with the region’s specific mental health problems, particularly the Troubles’ legacy as a factor in the spike in suicides. They point out that Northern Ireland has a 25% higher rate of mental illness than England. One of those who will present evidence to MPs, Dr Iris Elliott of the Mental Health Foundation, said the rates of suicide and mental illness posed a threat to political stability. “We cannot achieve a peaceful society in Northern Ireland without peaceful minds,” Elliott said. “If we invest in mental health support and work together to prevent mental health problems, then mental health will be an asset for our society. The failure to deliver for mental health over the last 13 months, and indeed over the last 20 years since the peace settlement, is unacceptable.” The chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland, Gerry Lynch, said that after more than a year without a devolved power-sharing government in Belfast it was time for Westminster to act. “It is imperative that mental health policy and service development doesn’t stagnate in the absence of a devolved administration. Given the underfunding of mental health care in Northern Ireland, new policies and reforms must be driven forward as a matter of urgency,” he said. David Babington, the Chief Executive of Action Mental Health, will lead the delegation to Westminster. He said: “It’s hard to believe that more people have now died through suicide than were killed in the Troubles, but the statistic is very real and so is the suffering taking place here. This cannot be allowed to continue. “Where is the duty of care to the people of Northern Ireland? Moreover, where is the £50m in extra funding for mental health which was promised nearly a year ago? Is anyone in charge?” The mental health experts and campaigners will address a cross-party group of MPs at a reception in Westminster, chaired by the Democratic Unionist MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, on Tuesday afternoon. The Together For You Group, which campaigns on mental health issues in Northern Ireland, and the Mental Health Foundation said that suicide rates were highest in the most deprived parts of the region, which include some of the poorest wards anywhere in the UK. These areas were also where Troubles-related violence was at its most pronounced.