The Children of Ireland Group
P. O. Box 13241, Tallahassee, Florida 32317
Telephone: (850) 562-6466 Ext. 3307

A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

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Youth Suicide Project


RECENT EVENTS:  Newspaper Articles related to Northern Ireland Suicides

In July, 1999, while visiting several cities and towns in Northern Ireland, J. Terry Ryan, President and Founder of The Children of Ireland Group, was told of the high number of youth suicides and attempted suicides.  This was one of the primary reasons the organization was formed shortly after Terry returned to the U.S. 

Since then, considerable efforts were made to encourage increasing the number of adolescent psychiatric beds from only six (6) in the entire Northern Ireland to approximately fifteen (15), although consultant's recommendations were well in excess of twenty!  Unfortunately, as of July, 2004 funding for staffing and other related expenses is lacking and efforts continue to press for this extremely vital support to troubled youth!

Additionally, in February and March, 2004, news reports indicated that upwards of twenty (20) suicides had occurred in Northern Belfast since the first of the year...many of these were youth less than 19 years of age...many were youth suicides acted out in response to other friends/relatives who had recently committed suicide or died unexpectedly!  Discussions and letters to the Department of Health, Social Services, and Public Safety (Department of Health) and the North and West Belfast Trust (Trust) led to a joint news release indicating the possibility of a collaborative international mental health volunteer effort with the joint assistance of the Friends Without Borders organization (Dr. Niall Mac Allister, MD President and Founder) to provide much needed resources to prevent youth suicides (News Release: March 17, 2004) .

Visit of Prominent American Mental Health Doctors to Northern Ireland

This joint news release was followed-up with the volunteering of Doctor Fred Bemak of George Mason University and Dr. Robert Conyne of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, both very familiar with international mental health volunteer efforts, to spearhead an initial visit to Northern Ireland.  Their purpose was to meet with mental health counterparts, develop an initial assessment of efforts to prevent youth suicides and provide ideas and recommendations.  This visit was accomplished in early May, 2004 through funding provided by gracious supporters of The Children of Ireland Group.  Visits were made not only to Belfast but also Craigavon, Banbridge, and Derry with very gracious hosts.    On May 17th, 2004, the Doctors provided their assessments and recommendations to Mr. Clive Gowdy, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health and Mr. Richard Black, CEO of the Trust (Doctors Initial Assessment).

Response to the Doctors' Recommendations & Doctors' Own Response

In turn, the Department of Health through the Trust's CEO provided their response to the Doctors' May, 2004 report outlining additional information and their own efforts toward the prevention of youth suicides, new funding resources for initiatives, and additional programs (Trust & Department's Response). 


The Doctors' response to the Department of Health and North and West Belfast Trust own response was received (Doctors' Response 7-14-04).  Hightlights of their response include:

           -PIPS Suicide Prevention Project is the only Department of Health project that

             specifically addresses youth suicide prevention, from all the material they've

            seen.  Other projects are described as addressing youth trauma and other

            mental health issues. 

           -The Trust indicates its primarily responsibility is to only

                "deliver treatment, care, and support to address health and wellbeing need within

                 our catchment population.....but it is not our remit to lead on the resolution of the



           The Doctors fully concur, and they note:

                "We remain strongly convinced based on our meetings and observations in

                 Northern Ireland, extensive international work around the world, and significant

                work in the area of trauma, that the facilitation of cross community communcations

                between (inter) and within (intra) sectarian groups where there are high levels of

                conflicts, must be instituted in manner that focuses on youth suicide. 

            The Doctors further note that in their current response, "..the Community Counseling

            Project and the new Trauma Resource Centre as programs that will address youth

            suicide, (thus) supporting the notion that conflict, trauma, and suicide are



            Going further, the Doctors provide some uniquie step-by-step guildelines to facilitate

            addressing sectarian conflict to reduce youth suicides in their response.  Steps that

            could be supported by their colleagues from the international mental health

            volunteer community!         


Northern Ireland Suicide Statistics

Additionally, during the interval between reports, The Children of Ireland Group, Inc. updated its own information on yearly statistics for youth suicides (suicides 1991-present 19 yrs and less.htm) and attempted suicides (Attempted suicides less than 18 1994- present.htm) with appreciated assistance from the Department of Health, Social Security, and Public Safety and the Department of Finance - Regional Information Systems. 

At the present, inquiries have also been made as to the status of implementing the approved adolescent psychiatric beds approved over two years ago and the status of hiring a funding-approved position for an additional adolescent psychiatric physician in Belfast.  At the present, only ONE adolescent psychiatric physician is practicing in Belfast, however, only taking new emergency related cases.


American Counseling Association Magazine Article - August, 2004

The American Counseling Association's Counseling Today Magazine's August, 2004

edition provided a very well researched article on the recent visit of Drs. Bemak and

Conyne, their recommendations and responses received from the Trust and the Department

of Health, along with the Doctors continuing concerns on how to reduce youth suicides

Suicide Prevention Project\Counseling Today Articel - August 2004 -part 1.pdf

Suicide Prevention Project\Counseling Today Articel August 2004 - part 2.pdf


Terry Ryan's Visit to Belfast - August, 2004

During the week of August 23rd, Terry attended over twenty (20) meetings in Belfast

with the Department of Health, N&W Belfast Trust, mental health professionals,

community centres, and community representatives to discuss the Children of

Ireland Group's youth suicide prevention efforts and, especially, the recommendations

made by the organization's professional mental health Doctors.  Community

groups and mental health professionals were extremely appreciative of our

efforts  and were very supportive of the recommendations. 


Unfortunately, discussions with the Trust were less than hopeful, however,

discussions are to continue between the Doctors and Trust representatives

and it is sincerely hoped that the recommendations will come to fruition;

otherwise, the trend of youth suicides will continue.


The following news articles appeared at the end of Terry's visit in Belfast newspapers:


Suicide Prevention Project\IrishNewsAug28-2004charititychiefarticle.pdf


Suicide Prevention Project\IrishNewsSept-10-2004suicidedayarticle.pdf

Suicide Prevention Project\IrishNewsSept-10-2004-manopensup-article.pdf


Newspaper Articles Regarding Suicides in Northern Ireland

The following link provides a link to other newspaper articles that appeared

shortly after this visit:

                Newspaper Articles related to Northern Ireland Suicides

Sadly, on September 21st it was learned that a physician working in the Royal

Hospital committed suicide on-premises along with a patient within a few hours

of each other.  It's understood that a major investigation is underway.
















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