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Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what provision he has made to assist families affected by suicides within the (a) East Belfast, (b) North Down and (c) Ards/Castlereagh area of Strangford; and if he will make a statement. (85051)

The Ulster Community and Hospitals Health and Social Services Trust provides a range of mental health intervention and strategies to support the families of suicide victims, including counselling for bereavement in conjunction with specialised agencies such as CRUSE.

Since February 2004, the Trust has been operating a Crisis Response and Home Treatment Team, which is available 365 days per year to provide an appropriate response to individuals who have attempted self-harm or are suicidal.

In addition to this service, members of this team assess any patient who presents to the A&E department of the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, suffering from mental health problems. Furthermore, the Trust has recently trained three staff in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and arrangements are presently being made for suicide awareness sessions in local sports and community clubs.

South and East Belfast Trust offer the primary care route of referral for assessment of mental health and will offer bereavement counselling through Community Psychiatric Nursing and Social Work services. They can also offer to support families in a crisis through involvement with their Crisis Response and Home Treatment Team. South and East Belfast Trust also signpost individuals and families to voluntary organisations such as CRUSE who offer straightforward bereavement counselling.

Regionally, a Families Forum is to be established. This forum will nominate representatives to sit on the forthcoming Suicide Strategy Implementation Body and will allow those bereaved by suicide to have a major say in the implementation of the Strategy.