New suicide watch group to launch river patrols

Plans are under way to develop a suicide watch service along the River Corrib following a number of deaths in the river in recent weeks.

Galway Suicide Watch is the brainchild of Dillon O’Malley, who set up the initiative in response to the river and coastal searches which have become an all-too-regular occurrence in Galway. Mr O’Malley aims to set up patrols along the Corrib with volunteers who will intervene if they see someone attempting to enter the river, and help with search and rescue operations.

Mr O’Malley, as part of his voluntary work with Oranmore Civil Defence, took part in the recent coastal searches for an 18-year-old man who entered the river in mid-March. His body was found in Inverin last week. The body of another man was found washed ashore in Oranmore last month, and coastal searches are ongoing for a man who went missing from Salthill on March 24. Another search and rescue operation was launched on Tuesday evening following reports that a woman had entered the river; however the search was called off yesterday after it was confirmed to be a false alarm.

Mr O’Malley set up a Facebook page for the local suicide watch initiative when he read of a search for a man who had entered the Corrib on the Galway Advertiser Facebook page on Sunday evening. Onlookers had managed to rescue the man from the river. Mr O’Malley contacted the Advertiser via Facebook on Monday and asked us to promote the page.

“I was reading the Facebook post on Sunday evening, and a lot of people were saying that something has to be done,” Mr O’Malley said yesterday. “So I set up a Facebook page and sent it to you. The response has been unbelievable. I have had about 80 people message me to say they are willing to volunteer.”

The Galway Suicide Watch Facebook page garnered several thousand likes in the hours after it was shared by the Galway Advertiser, and has continued to grow as word of the initiative spread online, with some 9,500 likes at the time of going to press. However much work needs to be done before the patrols can be launched.

Mr O’Malley now plans to meet with gardaí and other local emergency services to discuss how best to move forward with the initiative. He has completed applied suicide intervention skills training (ASIST ) as a member of Oranmore Civil Defence, and would like to see similar training in place for other volunteers, who will also need to be Garda vetted. Funding will also be required to purchase lifesaving equipment.

Similar initiatives are already in place in some riverside towns around the country, most notably Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol in Limerick and Wexford Marine Watch; both groups have been in contact with Mr O’Malley to offer their advice and support.

To find out more or get involved, find Galway Suicide Watch on Facebook.


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