Fears are being expressed that young people in the Larne area are being driven to suicidal thoughts by addiction to legal highs.
Suicide-prevention charity PIPS Larne has claimed that the number of people taking their own lives in east Antrim is increasing.
And the group has warned that the use of so-called legal highs has a “big part to play” in pushing young people down this dark path.
Carlee Letson from PIPS Larne told the Times: “These substances are very easy to get a hold of and they are hugely addictive. Once young people are hooked, they feel angry, aggressive, paranoid and frequently suicidal.
“I recently spoke to a young Larne man who had tried one of these substances, and what he said really shocked me.
“It was almost as if there was a voice in his head making him question everything about himself, stripping away every aspect of his life until he felt completely worthless and led to him having suicidal thoughts.”
Carlee believes that many young people turn to using legal highs for reasons such as peer pressure and boredom.
She added: “Young people in Larne and the wider east Antrim area need more activities to keep them occupied, which would help prevent them from getting hooked on these deadly substances in the first place.”
At Monday’s meeting of Larne Council, elected members approved a request from PIPS Larne to address them on the issue of increased levels of suicide in east Antrim.
Carlee added: “Larne Borough Council has a duty of care to all of its citizens, and we want to know what they are doing to help reduce drug and alcohol addiction in our communities.
“There have been three suicides in the Larne area in recent months. Every time someone takes their own life, it creates a ripple effect which has a huge impact on others. Something must be done to stop this trend.”