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As one person per day commits suicide, Console is needed more than ever

Margaret Tierney, Console

Margaret Tierney, Console

More than 520 people died through suicide in Ireland in 2009 — that is more than one person each day — and the numbers continue to increase. For the families and friends of the victim the impact is devastating. Each year, another 12,000 people have presented at hospital A&E departments having engaged in acts of deliberate self-harm or attempted suicide.More people die through suicide than on our roads. The budget to fund the Road Traffic Authority to reduce road traffic deaths is €40 million. The total Government budget for suicide prevention is only €5 million.

Console — a national service with offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Donegal and Kildare — was founded in 2002 by Paul Kelly following the death of his 21-year-old sister Sharon through suicide, and since its inception, it has been instrumental in bringing about tremendous change in recent years, playing a fundamental role in changing the public perception of suicide and mental health in this country.

Console has become a vital charity in the present climate. People are really feeling the pressure and the economic challenges can make it worse. Too many young people are taking their own lives in this country. It is so heartbreaking. When it comes to the issue of suicide, many people find it hard to understan and sometimes even empathise with. If we find it difficult to digest, imagine how those faced with it must feel; the extent of utter desperation and loneliness that someone must experience to take that route as their only option or because they can not see any options.

Since its foundation, Console has developed into a professional organisation, providing counselling, support, and helpline services to those bereaved through suicide as well as those who are suicidal within the community. The demand for Console’s services is steadily increasing. It is commonly accepted that bereavement through suicide can be more prolonged, protracted, and complicated than many other types of bereavement and those left behind often require specialist care and support.

There are a minimum of 12 people affected by each suicide, and with that in mind, Console provides the following:

— Individual and family counselling service for those bereaved through suicide as well as those who are suicidal.

— Counselling service for children and young people affected or bereaved through suicide (child psychotherapy )

— Therapeutic support groups for those bereaved by suicide

— Suicide prevention and intervention programmes for children and adolescents

— Education and awareness programmes

— The publication of literature to help people understand their grieving process

— Annual celebrations and memorials

Console recently launched the 1Life suicide prevention helpline ( 24 hour Service ) Freephone: 1800 247 100. This service is available to anyone in suicidal distress, who has had suicidal thoughts, is self harming or who wants to die by suicide. Professional counsellors and volunteers respond to calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Console Galway is located at Elm Park in Renmore and is staffed by professional counsellors and therapists. It also provides child psychotherapy services for children and adolescents in crisis or bereaved through suicide, and it has responded to requests from companies and corporations in the Galway area following the death of a staff member through suicide.

Over the last number of years Console’s Government funding has been reduced drastically and as a result we need to raise more than 90 per cent of our funding to sustain and maintain our local and national services to the community.

My role within the organisation is a dual role — I am Human Resource Manager for Console where I recruit accredited counsellors and volunteers for the national service; and I am also Regional Development Manager, where I am responsible for raising much-needed funds to ensure the continuation and development of the Galway service.

The Friends of Console Galway are a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time to help create awareness around the issue of suicide and to raise much needed funds for the centre in Elm Park. I acknowledge the people of Galway city and county who over the years have been instrumental in organising fundraising events to keep the centre in Renmore open. Goodman Medical Ireland Ltd and Cases Wine Warehouse are organising events over the coming weeks with the proceeds to Console. Here are some of the events that are being held to raise funds for Console this Spring.

— Goodman Medical Ireland Ltd holds its table quiz on Friday February 18 in Tonerys, Bohermore.

— The Dunnes Stores (Galway ) bag packing day will be held on Saturday March 5.

— The annual Console Snowdrop Appeal Day will take place in April.

— The annual Console Memorial Walk “Walking in Memory of Our Loved Ones” will be held on Sunday May 15 at 2pm from the Claddagh.

— Cases Wine Warehouse holds its annual BBQ on Friday July 1.

In December, we hold the The Christmas Celebration of Light Service when we remember and commemorate the lives lost through suicide.

If you are interested in volunteering for one of the above events please contact me on 091 480080 for further details or e-mail; [email protected]

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