It all goes back to the old adage, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved.’ To mark World Suicide Prevention Day which takes place today, Samaritans is encouraging anyone worried about a friend, colleague, or family member who may be struggling to cope to simply ask, ‘Are you OK?’
Not everyone finds it easy to start a conversation that may be uncomfortable. And not everyone shows signs that they are struggling with difficult thoughts or feelings. But simple human contact - knowing that you are not alone with your troubles and that someone will listen can make a big difference, even at really difficult times.
It’s now widely acknowledged that suicide is an epidemic in this country. Official figures show that nearly 500 people take their lives in Ireland every year. However the unofficial estimate is believed to be nearer 1,000 people. That’s an average of between two and three people losing their lives to suicide every day, and out of that number, 80 percent will be men - with males aged 15-24 the highest risk category. Every life lost by suicide, is one too many. The numbers of people dying in this manner is five times higher than those dying in road crashes. In 2014, 196 people died on our roads, and 190 people lost their lives in road accidents in 2013. This figure reduced from a high of nearly 400 people in 2005 - and in no small part as a result of major targeted road safety campaigns.
The silence surrounding suicide can be deafening. It is up to all of us to turn the tide of suicide and overcome the stigma and taboo that surrounds the subject.
Samaritans offers round-the-clock support for anyone who’s struggling, whoever they are, however they are feeling, and whatever life has thrown at them. Director of the Galway branch, Will Browne says sharing a problem is the first step to finding a way through it. “It takes a bit of bravery, but if you suspect someone’s having a tough time, reach out if you can. Let them talk and just listen - try not to judge. If they make it clear that they don’t want to talk to you, let them know that Samaritans is here, round the clock every single day of the year, for anyone who needs the space to think and talk in confidence.”
Mr Browne says that while you can’t take on another person’s troubles, you can let them know you care. “If you ask, ‘Are you OK?’ and show you are there to listen, people are far less likely to feel they have to go it alone with their troubles. Often it’s not about looking for someone to fix a problem - sometimes the biggest help can be having someone to share it with.”
People can contact Samaritans in confidence by phone, email, text, or face to face at its Galway branch in Nuns Island. Anyone who wants to talk in confidence to Samaritans can call 116 123 or email [email protected] The organisation also promotes emotional health and wellbeing through their outreach work. To find out more about the work that Samaritans do in Galway, or to learn about volunteering, call now on 086 2468 203 or email [email protected]