8 Sep 2005

YOUNG people can, from today, tell the Minister for Health what needs to be done to help end the tragedy of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams, launched his ‘Message to the Minister’ campaign on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at an event in NICCY’s Belfast offices.

The campaign will allow young people to post their messages on the NICCY website (www.niccy.org), which will be collected and passed to Mr Shaun Woodward MP, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Mr Williams said he was very keen that the voice of Northern Ireland’s young people was heard in the debate about how to reduce the toll of suicide and self-harm on young lives.

“Since I took up office I have been horrified that young people’s mental health needs have not been met,” he said.

“I have been horrified that so many young people take their own lives.

“I have been horrified that so many of Northern Ireland’s young people harm themselves.

“I believe that young people must now be able tell the minister of health what they want to change.”

Mr Williams ‘Message to the Minister’ campaign will run for six (6) weeks from today (Thursday).

“I am grateful that Mr Woodward has a Task Force working to try and find ways to reduce suicide, and I know that Professor Bamford’s Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability is concluding in December,” said the Commissioner.

“I believe that both the Task Force and the review should have the views of young people available to them.”

Notes for Editors

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People is also hosting an exhibition of young people’s art on suicide and self-harm at his Belfast offices at the end of October. Part of today’s launch will include a call for young people’s organisations to submit work for the exhibition

Further information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found at www.niccy.org