SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has expressed his dismay that the roll out of a strategy to prevent suicides, reduce the incidence of self-harm and assist bereaved families cannot move forward in the absence of an Executive.
In response to an Assembly Question tabled by Mr Durkan, Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed that without a confirmed budget position the department will not be able to fully implement the Protect Life 2 Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The Foyle MLA said:
“It is unforgivable that this life-saving strategy and delivery of services for bereaved families is yet another casualty of the DUP sanctioned stalemate of our institutions. The continued absence of an Executive is having a destabilising impact on the delivery of a wide range of services, not just across health but every government department.
"This prevention strategy was hard-won after years of campaigning from myself and many others aiming to tackle the epidemic of suicide and its devastating impact within our communities. It is worth remembering that the Protect Life 2 Strategy was already delayed by three years, when it sat effectively gathering dust during the last Stormont suspension. Once again, the delivery of this important provision is a casualty of political failure.
“Progress which has been made in terms of addressing poor mental health must be built upon. Tackling poor mental health within our communities will prove an even more difficult prospect given the challenges people are facing amid the current cost of living emergency. There are many organisations working extremely hard on the issue of mental health, but we need to see the delivery of Protect Life 2 to ensure that lives are saved.
"This dereliction of duty from the DUP has left some of the most vulnerable individuals within society and their families without essential protections and continues to have a profound impact on daily life for people across the North.”