A Derry MLA who lost his sister to suicide has spoken out ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day to remind people 'it's ok not to be ok'.
SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan's sister Gay Durkan, who was a highly respected nurse, died in 2011.
Speaking ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, this Monday September 10, Mr Durkan said that people should always know that they can seek help.
He has also reiterated the call for a suicide prevention strategy in Northern Ireland.
“World Suicide Prevention Day will be a tough day for some, but it also an opportunity for us as a society to stop and reflect and remind those around us that they are not alone," he commented.
"Suicide has sadly become such a prevalent issue in our society, across every constituency and a reality for too many family, friends and loved ones.
“That is why earlier this year, I wrote to the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health to ask for a suicide prevention taskforce to be set up in the North West due to the sheer number of incidents that have occurred in my constituency and across the region.
“Unfortunately, as the figures show, suicide is not specific to any one constituency, age or gender. Nobody is immune.
"We must ensure that people are aware of the help that is available and we must continue to invest in our mental health services.
"It is absolutely imperative that we establish and implement a suicide prevention strategy for Northern Ireland – we need to do everything we can to help those in despair.
Mr Durkan said the absence of the legislative assembly here means people are being let down.
“The continued absence of Government here and the consequent failure to implement a new suicide prevention strategy is simply not good enough.
"We need a Government in place. A Government that is forward thinking and outward looking. "One that embraces what our society needs and understands some of the tough realities of life. An Assembly won't wave a magic wand but it could improve things and anything that might save even one life is well worth doing.
"Mental health and suicide prevention services will always be a priority for the SDLP.”