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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
GPs 'ignorant of suicide signs'
The papers have joined forces to highlight suicide
The papers have joined forces to highlight suicide
Up to 80% of doctors in NI do not have specialist training in suicide prevention, it has been claimed.

Colm Donaghy of the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Taskforce made the comment as four daily newspapers joined forces to highlight the problem.

The Irish News, News Letter, Belfast Telegraph and Daily Mirror published a joint statement to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

Mr Donaghy said he was angry that more doctors had not undertaken training.

Suicide rates in Northern Ireland are said to be among the highest in Europe.

Mr Donaghy told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show that 80% of people who took their own life had visited their GP in the previous six months.

"We asked for a GP training campaign regionally to be run," he said.

"There has been a low takeup of that training in Northern Ireland by general practitioners.

A man holding his face in desperation [generic]
Our political leaders must recognise that every person in Northern Ireland could be at risk of suicide at some time in their life
Newspapers' statement

"The number of GPs who have gone through the regional training would be about 50% to 20%.

"The reason it is so low is because of the nature of the service. We have provided CD Roms to all of our GP practices in Northern Ireland."

The four newspapers said every day in Northern Ireland at least one person takes their own life, while another four people would attempt to kill themselves.

They ran statements about suicide on their front pages and also highlighted personal stories of families affected by suicide.

'Mental health'

The newspapers said the tragedy of suicide was "claiming victims across every age group, class, creed, county and community in increasing numbers".

"And while the suicide rate among our pensioners is the highest in the world, it is among our young that the greatest devastation is felt.

"More young men and women die from suicide each year than in road accidents."

They said there needed to be action to "bring an end to silent hopelessness that haunts thousands of people in our cities, towns, villages and remote rural homes".

They added: "Our political leaders must recognise that every person in Northern Ireland could be at risk of suicide at some time in their life.

"With more than 80,000 people here living with some degree of mental health problem, the issue cannot be underestimated."

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