The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern
Ireland has expressed serious concerns at the stark link between
alcohol use and the rising suicide rate, which is says underlines
the need for minimum pricing for alcohol.
and Homicide in Northern Ireland report by the National
Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with
Mental Illness found alcohol misuse was a more common general
feature of suicide and homicide in Northern Ireland than elsewhere
in the UK.
“We can no longer afford to ignore the growing
trend linking alcohol and suicide, particularly in young people,”
said Dr Uzma Huda, Vice Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
in Northern Ireland.
“The most straight forward action that can be
taken would be to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. This
would have very little impact on people who drink alcohol in
moderation, but minimum pricing has been demonstrated to have an
impact on alcohol consumption of heavy drinkers, particularly
younger people who binge drink. We welcome the recommendation in
the report that pricing should be a key step towards reducing the
rate of suicide,” she said.
Dr Huda said she is pleased the report
confirms the low risk to the general public from mentally ill
patients living in the community. “While the number of stranger
homicides rose overall, there was not a single homicide of a
stranger by a person with mental disorder in the eight year period.
This runs against the misguided perception that people with mental
illness are a risk to the public.
“Any homicide is a tragedy, whether
perpetrated by a person with a mental illness or not. This report
demonstrates the extent to which people with a mental illness are
more likely to take their own lives than to harm others,” Dr Huda
“We need to tackle the stigma around mental
health so that people feel more able to seek and accept help when
they need it,” she said.
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The ‘Suicide and Homicide in Northern Ireland’ report by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness