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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Psychiatrists concerned by clear links between alcohol and increased suicide rate in Northern Ireland

Embargoed until 29 June 2011

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.

The Suicide 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 said.

“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.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



The ‘Suicide and Homicide in Northern Ireland’ report by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness


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