Northern Ireland - Media report
Solvent abuse is being overshadowed by the high-profile issues of under-age drinking and illegal drugs, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast has warned.
The SDLP's Pat Convery said he was deeply concerned by new figures revealing that the number of deaths from solvent abuse in Northern Ireland has increased five-fold in just one year.
Earlier this week, the Health Promotion Agency said Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA) deaths here had jumped from one death in 2002 to five in 2003, despite dropping across the UK. Mr Convery said young people falling into harmful behaviour could not be left to their own devices.
"Solvent abuse highlights the whole issue of the vulnerability of young people, because it tends to peak at 13-14 years of age but it often begins at the age of 10 or 11," he said.
"But people working in the area are convinced that it is getting insufficient attention because it is overshadowed by the high-profile issues of under-age drinking and illegal drugs."
A good society has to protect its vulnerable members, Mr Convery warned. "We cannot just leave them to their own devices at any age just because they have fallen into behaviour which harms them.
"We cannot just move problems on or push them back out on to the streets. We must certainly intervene to save the lives of young children."
Source: Belfast Telegraph, 22/07/2005