On World Mental Health Day, the Sports Minister has called on sports organisations to play their part in promoting positive mental health and to help combat suicide.

Carál Ní Chuilín was speaking following a meeting with Sport Northern Ireland and many of the leading sports organisations. Most of the discussion focused on the development of an emerging ‘Suicide Awareness Through Sport’ campaign which the Minister has asked Sport Northern ireland to take forward.

The Minister said: “I am very eager to ensure that DCAL, and the agencies with which it works, play their full part in supporting wider Government initiatives aimed at promoting mental well-being and, in particular, helping to combat the very serious problem of suicide and self-harm in many areas of the north.

“Given its profile in the community, and the number of lives it touches, sport can do much to raise awareness of the issues and assist people directly on the ground with problems of depression and stress which can impact on their well-being and, in extreme cases, lead to suicide. It is for that reason that I have asked Sport Northern Ireland to develop a Suicide Awareness Through Sport campaign.

“As Sports Minister, I want this campaign to be accepted and adopted by as many sports as possible in order to help make a difference on the ground.”

The Minister also advised that, as part of a separate initiative, she is working with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), Public Health Agency (PHA) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) to identify ways in which sport and other culture, arts and leisure activities can be utilised in addressing well-being and mental health issues in rural areas.

Notes to editors:
1. As part of DCAL’s contribution to Protect Life, Sport Northern Ireland is currently developing a Suicide Awareness through Sport Communications Strategy in conjunction with Lifeline and the Public Health Agency. The purpose is to raise awareness of Suicide within the sporting community; provide suicide awareness training to sports providers; and encourage sport and sports personalities to support public information campaigns.

2. All media enquiries to Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Press Office – Tel: 028 9051 5047 or email:communications@dcalni.gov.uk Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07966715440 and your call will be returned.