Ballaghaderreen seminar on suicide well-attended

A seminar entitled ‘Facing up to Suicide’ was held in Ballaghaderreen on Tuesday evening last with a number of topics being discussed at length with a view to helping educate and inform people in the community in relation to suicide.   The sizeable audience in attendance listened to many different guest speakers on the night, all of whom provided a great insight into the numerous aspects of suicide including creating suicide awareness and indeed suicide prevention.   Mr. Tommy Marren of Mid-West Radio chaired the meeting and he introduced the various speakers on the night. Mr. Michael Creaton, chairman of the Ballaghaderreen branch of Mental Health, spoke briefly about the Mental Health Association in the town which had only being set up recently and the topic of suicide in general.   ‘The aims of this association are to promote positive mental health in the community and also support people who may be suffering from mental illness of any kind.    ‘We would appeal to the public for new members and everybody is welcome to become involved. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the North West C.D.P. for all its help and support and to the committee for their continued hard work.’    Mr. Creaton went on to highlight some alarming statistics in relation to suicide while also taking the time to state that the Government are not doing enough to address the problem.   ‘In 2003 approximately 11,000 people tried to attempt suicide in Ireland. This is an startling figure but while the Government continue to maximise the resources and capital which goes into road deaths they continue to ignore suicide which receives minimum attention’.   Mary O’Sullivan, who is the Resource Officer for suicide prevention with the HSE (West), spoke about the recent developments in relation to suicide prevention and awareness and highlighted the initiatives which have been put in place.   ‘We have had a lot of developments in relation to suicide prevention in recent years. I suppose in those famous political words it’s a case of ‘a lot done, a lot more to do.’   ‘We need to reach out to people to generate awareness as human understanding is the greatest weapon we have against suicide,’ Mary stated, as she highlighted the Reach Out programme which had been set up two years previously.   She also updated the audience on what has been done on a national as well as local level to try and curb the problem of suicide.   ‘If we analyse it from top to bottom, there has been developments in recent times. There has been a Minister for Health Promotion this year which is a positive step in the right direction. There is also the National Office of Suicide Prevention in the Department which should prioritise the issue.   ‘On a local level the community approach is gaining momentum. Volunteers are now offering invaluable time and communities in general are responding to suicide. There are a large number of groups out there now only willing to help,’ added Mary.   She concluded by appealing to everybody to pull together in order to help one another out, organisations and groups alike.   ‘Resources are limited so we need to be able to come together to merge our groups to share and help each other when possible as suicide is everybody’s responsibility’.   Mr. Michael Egan of Living Links, which is an organisation aimed at provided support for bereaved suicide victims, spoke about the organisation and how people can become involved in order to help out those who have been affected by suicide.   There is a three-day training programme to complete before you can become a member of the organisation which would qualify you to assist any person that may need support.   ‘The course involves three days of training which would provide one with all the knowledge of how to support suicide victims. Through the course we will teach people how to listen and how to understand grief as well as the legal side and social process so they will be equipped to deal with bereaved suicide victims.