On Wednesday (25 January) the Families Voices Forum launched its manifesto for turn grief into hope through actions that reduce suicide at an event in Belfast City Hall.

The manifesto includes six big asks:

  1. Fund the Implementation of Strategies
    The Protect Life 2 Strategy and Mental Health Strategy should be fully funded. They are documents without meaning if they cannot be put into action.
  2. Develop a Workforce Trained to Deal with Suicide
    Suicide awareness, prevention and postvention training should be mandatory for frontline heath staff, community workers, health and social care professionals and first responders, as a priority.
  3. Work with Families As Partners in Care
    The Forum supports a ‘Triangle of Care’ approach which recognises the professional, the person in need and their family as key to the long-term maintenance of health and wellbeing.
  4. Provide a Regional Crisis Response for Mental Health
    Suicidal crisis response should be available 24/7 and accessed with an easy to remember 3-digit number. Assessment should be facilitated in a safe place and use of ED should be a last resort for those in distress.
  5. Improve Postvention Support
    Everyone who has been adversely impacted by suicide has the right to support. We know this is most often required within the first 7 days of a bereavement, however it can be weeks, months or years before those affected are able to reach out.
  6. Build Community Capacity
    Public information about mental health, suicide and bereavement should form part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness. Reducing suicides will also depend on the people within our communities being able to respond to distress in a supportive way

The Forum, which is supported by the Public Health Agency and coordinated by Developing Healthy Communities, represents those bereaved by suicide to government and decision makers.

On the day participants heard compelling voices of lived experience from Forum members and contributions from Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion NI, and Professor Rory O’Connor, President of IASP and Head of the Suicidal Behaviour and Research Lab at Glasgow University​.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Michelle Kelly kindly hosted the event in Belfast City Hall, which was lit up in yellow to mark the launch.

Read the manifesto