ONE THIRD of people who survived violent incidents during the Troubles have attempted to take their own lives, a new survey has shown.
A poll of 2,000 Troubles victims from Northern Ireland, the Republic and Britain by the London-based Docklands Victims Association (DVA) found 32% of respondents had attempted to commit suicide.
Many still take medication to battle suicidal thoughts linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and various other mental health issues, DVA president Jonathan Ganesh said.
The shocking statistics have raised concerns over a "vast" number of suicides linked to Northern Ireland’s violent past, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
The DVA has now called for better support, funding and care to go towards treating victims of attacks committed throughout the Troubles era.
The organisation's report will be presented to officials from the Northern Ireland Office in London tomorrow, and copies have been sent to British prime minister Theresa May as well as the Irish Government.
The report states: "The DVA is very concerned to learn that a vast number who suffered direct emotional stress as a consequence of the Troubles have taken their own lives many years after the initial incident.”
Mr Ganesh, who was badly injured in the 1996 Docklands bombing, said: "I am very concerned with the findings of our consultations.
"I’m appalled that victims have taken their own lives. It breaks my heart."
SDLP Policing and Justice Spokesperson, Dolores Kelly, said the statistics were "extremely concerning".
Mrs Kelly added that if the stark figures do not "focus the minds" of Sinn Féin and the DUP, then it will be a sorry insight into how far away Northern Ireland is from solving the political impasse at Stormont.
The MLA for Upper Bann said: "Whilst this report confirms what was widely acknowledged by many specialists for some time now, it is nonetheless disgraceful that little action has been taken to tackle this issue.
“It is well known that more people in Northern Ireland have died by suicide than those who were killed in the Troubles.
"We have a mental health crisis here stemming from the trauma of our past, and it must be addressed as matter of urgency".
Mrs Kelly added: "Too many people are living with the trauma of the past daily, either directly from being caught up in a Troubles related event, or indirectly by the legacy of the past still bearing down on our communities today.
"My party have been actively engaging with many victims groups over the last number of months in an attempt to ensure their voices are reflected in the UK Government’s consultation paper, 'Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past'.
"Our consultation response will be both direct and detailed, however, what must be made clear in the minds of all parties is that the time to deliver for victims is today, not tomorrow."
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