World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th 2020, is an opportunity for all of us to play our part in preventing suicide. We can all make a difference, as a member of society, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. There are many things that we can do, on a daily basis and on World Suicide Prevention Day, to prevent suicidal behaviour. These include raising awareness about the issue, educating ourselves and others about the causes and the warning signs for suicide, showing compassion and care for those who are in distress in our communities, questioning the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and also by sharing our own experiences.
The HSE Resource Office for Suicide Prevention offers training programmes that prepare participants to recognise, engage with and support persons who may be having thoughts of suicide. Start is an online programme that can be undertaken online in 1½ hour, advises a four-step model and includes impactful simulations and practices. It can be accessed by contacting your local Resource Officer: Josephine Rigney (Laois/Offaly), email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: 086 8157850 or Eddie Ward (Longford/Westmeath and Louth Meath), email: email@example.com, Mobile: 086 3801152).
World Suicide Prevention Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the stigma associated with suicide and how we can change it. You can help by:
- Challenge common myths about or attitudes toward suicide. This will encourage society to look at suicide from a different perspective – one founded in openness, understanding and compassion for others.
- Use trusted sources to educate yourself on mental health difficulties and on suicide. Learn to use informed, appropriate, sensitive and non-judgemental language and try not to male assumptions. Don’t identify a person solely by his or her mental health difficulty and never use ‘suicide’ as a noun to describe a person.
- Recognise the contribution of people who have mental health difficulties, have attempted suicide and recovered, or who have been bereaved by suicide. This will give you an invaluable insight into lived experience and will also be very empowering and healing for others.
- Start a conversation with someone you care about. When doing so, you don’t have to be an expert or have all the answers – just listening with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope.
Resources and Supports: Take a minute to find out what help is available for both yourself and others – Local GPs, MiDoc Out of Hours Service 1850 302 702; Hospital Emergency Departments, Pieta House 24/7 Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247, The Samaritans 116 123; Your Mental Health Information Line 1800 111888, or Text ‘Hello’ to 50808.
Pieta provide a bereavement liaison service for those who have lost a family member or a friend or colleague to suicide and may like to avail of support with their grief. Bernie Carroll is the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer for the Midlands and she can be contacted on 086 418 0088 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Midlands Living Links also provide a listening and support service and can be contacted through their Co-Ordinator on 086 1600641.
Reflection Ceremonies: This year the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ and to mark this ‘Reflection Ceremonies’ have been organised by Midlands Living Links to be held at the locations of the ‘Trees of Hope’ in the various towns in the Midland counties as follows:
- Tullamore: Sunday 13th September @ 12.30pm: Tree of Hope, Lloyd Park, Tullamore.
- Kilbeggan: Sunday 13th September @ 3.30pm, Brosna Park, Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath.
- Longford: Sunday 13th September @ 3pm: The Peace Park, Longford Town.
- Birr: Saturday 19th September @ 10am: Mass Service & Reflection at Tree of Hope, Birr Catholic Church Grounds.
- Portlaoise: Sunday 20th September @ 11.30pm: Tree of Hope, Memorial Garden, Ridge Road, Portlaoise, followed by Blessing at 12.15pm, Sensory Gardens, Rockview Walkways R427.
Preventing suicide requires the efforts of many – each of us, healthcare professionals, educators, community members and political officials and governments – but the positive effects of this collaborative work can be sustainable and have a massive impact. On September 10th join with many others across the world who are playing their part in the prevention of suicide. https://www.iasp.info/wspd2020/