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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 06:51 GMT 07:51 UK
Suicide 'legacy' of NI Troubles
The study looked at the human cost of years of violence
The legacy of the Troubles has played a substantial role in the high rate of suicide in Northern Ireland, according to research.

The Department of Health looked at how 30 years of violence affected people's mental and emotional well being.

About 150 suicides were recorded annually between 2000 and 2004, but by 2006 that figure had risen to 291.

Report author Mike Tomlinson of Queen's University said the end of the conflict may have brought its own problems.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said understanding the causes of suicide was of paramount importance.

Mr McGimpsey, who launched the document "The Trouble with Suicide" said suicide was an increasing problem in Northern Ireland, especially amongst the young.

"I believe this report will be extremely useful in helping us to begin to unravel the effects of the Troubles on the mental health of the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

"In particular, it highlights a number of areas that will require further research. In the future it will help us better target suicide prevention and mental health promotion measures."

The review generally concluded that the Troubles shaped suicide in significant ways, and its legacy continues to influence the challenge of reducing suicide in the future.

Main findings

  • People in Northern Ireland report higher happiness levels than in many parts of Europe and further afield, yet this sits along side high levels of unhappiness and psychological distress

    Conflict-related trauma can have long term physical and mental consequences; suicide rates have been associated with immediate and longer term consequences on conflict

  • Research shows that people who live in an area heavily affected by violence tend to have very high rates of depression

  • The Troubles affected the way suicide was reported and recorded, and limited public recognition of suicide and self-harming as serious public issues

  • During the transition to peace, people are more willing to report depression

    Further research will take place on how suicide relates to a neighbourhood and there will be work with those bereaved by suicide as well as young people.

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