Raising awareness of suicide and bereavement services in Belfast

Community, voluntary and statutory organisations are launching new resources to raise awareness of suicide prevention and bereavement services across Belfast.

The launch event for a new information leaflet and video is being organised by Belfast Protect Life Implementation Group (BPLIG) which is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA). It is open to the public and will take place on Tuesday 22 November at Belfast City Hall, at 12 noon.

The new leaflet will mean anyone who needs to access services for suicide and bereavement will have all the information in one place. The new video highlights the work of the BPLIG partners, encouraging those who need access to services to reach out for help.

Frances Dowds, Health Improvement Manager at the PHA, said: “There are many different organisations across Belfast and the Greater Belfast area offering services and advice with the main objective to help address the complexities around suicide prevention. The services range from counselling, training, mentor support, complementary therapies and much more. Some specialised groups also offer a range of services to help those who have been bereaved by suicide.

“The event will highlight the excellent work of Protect Life 2 funded groups as well as agencies funded by other government departments and charitable foundations and provide a real opportunity for members of the public to find out more about the services available to help at times of need and importantly how they can be contacted.”

Protect Life 2 is a strategy from the Department of Health for reducing suicides and the incidence of self-harm with action delivered across a range of government departments, agencies, and sectors. Protect Life 2 acknowledges that no single organisation or service is able to influence all the complex interacting factors that lead someone to harming themselves or, ultimately, to taking their own life.

BPLIG is made up of representatives from community, voluntary and statutory organisations, working together to promote positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to prevent suicides in our communities. The group members also work to provide bereavement services for those who have been affected by or bereaved by suicide.

Margaret Walker, Manager at Suicide Awareness and Support Group (SASG) in West Belfast & co-chair of BPLIG said: “Membership of BPLIG has been so useful for exchanging ideas and for sharing learning on how members can work together to support our communities in delivering on the objectives of the Protect Life 2 Suicide Prevention strategy. The new information leaflet places all PL2 support services information in one place. Today’s event will also offer us a chance to promote the services we provide and to hear back from service users.”

Highlighting the benefits of the support networks, one service user who received support from the Suicide Awareness and Support Group, said: “I now feel I have the strength and courage to reach out and accept help.”

Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, said: “Sadly, evidence suggests that the impact of the current cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland may lead to an increase in suicidal distress across our population. There continues to be a lack of awareness of the numerous services who work tirelessly to support people in suicidal distress, and perceived stigma about accessing mental health services. It is concerning that many of those who die by suicide have not sought support, I therefore very much welcome these efforts to raise awareness about the range of services that are available. I am delighted to be attending the event, to meet those who support people on the ground and to understand the experiences of service users to inform policy and practice across government departments.”

To register to attend the free event, access the Eventbrite link below:


If you or someone you know is in distress or despair and need to speak to a crisis counsellor immediately call Lifeline for free on 0808 808 8000. Lifeline is available 24/7, every day of the year.

For a range of mental and emotional wellbeing resources tips and advice to support wellbeing, visit www.mindingyourhead.info

Notes to editors:

  • For accessibility for communities the leaflet is also translated into five languages Arabic, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak.
  • The primary purpose of all local Protect Life Implementation Groups (PLIGs) is to work to ensure implementation of Protect Life 2 (PL2), The Suicide Prevention Strategy for Northern Ireland (2019 - 2024) at a local level Protect Life 2 - Suicide Prevention Strategy | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk). Regional and local PLIG meetings take place quarterly to agree key objectives for the year ahead and to monitor progress and address issues. The Regional Protect Life Implementation Group is chaired by Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride. Belfast Protect Life Implementation Group is a strategic group for the city of Belfast.
  • Protect Life 2, (2019-24) is a long-term strategy for reducing suicides and the incidence of self-harm with action delivered across a range of Government departments, agencies, and sectors. It recognises that no single organisation or service is able to influence all the complex interacting factors that lead someone to harming themselves or, ultimately, to taking their own life.
  • PL2, recognises the critical role that communities have in suicide prevention and Local PLIGs create a mechanism for better linkages and understanding between statutory service providers, elected representatives and community and voluntary sector representatives at a local level and ensure input from their locality into the Regional Strategy Implementation Steering Group (RSISG) and vice versa.
  • Members are representative (at a senior decision-making level) of key agencies across the community, voluntary and statutory sectors with a responsibility for, and experience of, addressing suicide prevention issues and mental health/emotional wellbeing.  Each Trust based PLIG works to define local needs, priorities and actions. Each PLIG is reflective of RPLIG membership.

BPLIG members:

  • Action Mental Health
  • Ascert
  • Aston Community Trust
  • Belfast City Council
  • Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
  • Counselling All Nations 
  • Lifeline
  • Papyrus UK
  • PSNI
  • Public Health Agency
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • Samaritans
  • Start 360
  • Suicide Awareness and Support Group

A range of services on offer from BPLIG members include:

  • Crisis de-escalation and intervention
  • Postvention/bereavement support and family support
  • Individual/group counselling
  • Training and education
  • Women’s groups
  • Peer support
  • Community gardens