Suicide prevention conference begins in Derry

Distressed looking man sitting on bed Image copyright Getty Images

More than 850 people have travelled to Londonderry for a major international suicide prevention conference.

Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the UK, with five people dying each week.

Last week, the Department of Health unveiled its plan to reduce it by 10% over the next five years.

The 30th World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) will take place over five days.

The conference is being hosted by Visit Derry, the Western Health and Social Care Trust and Ulster University, in association with the IASP local organising committee.

Siobhan O'Neill, professor of mental health sciences at the Ulster University, said the focus of the conference would be on prevention.

"We will be talking about the amazing ways we have now to prevent suicide, the treatments and the approaches and our understanding of suicide," she said.

"It is something that will resonate with a lot of people in the city and beyond. It is certainly a conference at which there will be a lot of hope, lots of hopeful discussions and opportunities."

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said the city was hosting an "important and prestigious conference".

"This city, like everywhere else has felt the pain of suicide and events like this are essential in helping to save lives," she said.

The World Congress officially opens at 16:00 BST in the city's Millennium Forum.

Professor Murad Moosa Khan, President of International Association for Suicide Prevention will deliver the conference's opening address.

Where to get help

If you are in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

For support and more information on emotional distress, click here.

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