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NI Mental Health Champion appeals over false suicide reports on social media

Professor Siobhán O’Neill

Northern Ireland’s interim Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhán O’Neill, has asked the public to stop sharing a social media post that falsely reports a surge in suicides in early September across the province.

Ms O’Neill said: ‘Reports that 33 (or 35) people have died by suicide in Northern Ireland in a week are untrue.

‘Please don't share this figure or associated images. These posts can cause distress and contribute to suicide clusters.’

A report published in 2019 by mental health charity Samaritans revealed that rates of suicide in Northern Ireland are significantly higher than in the rest of the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Professor O’Neill emphasised the importance of having safe and constructive conversation around suicide, concluding: ‘The messages appear to have been shared by people from a whole range of backgrounds and political affiliations. People are genuinely concerned. It’s vital that we don’t shut down conversation about suicide, but that we keep the discussion safe. Call lifeline on 0808 808 8000.’

For 24 hour support call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

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