Group calls for part-time suicide prevention officer

The July meeting of the Mayo County Council this week heard a presentation from Mary O’Sullivan, the HSE West resource officer for suicide prevention and Máire Ní Dhomhnaill, a counsellor from the Family Resource Centre in Castlebar. The pair explained that they were working the Mayo Suicide Prevention Group, which was made up of some 50 organisations which aimed to help people and promote mental health. One of the suggestions that was put forward was that the Mayo County Council could provide funding so it could recruit a part-time suicide prevention officer, which could work in a similar role to that of the road safety officer. The idea was supported by the councillors, but the county manager told the meeting that while he was supportive of it, he could not commit to such an investment.

Following the presentation to the members there were a number of contributions from members of the council, all of them very supportive of the work being carried out by the Mayo Suicide Prevention Group. Cllr Rose Conway Walsh told the meeting that she had got involved in the cause, after a 26-year-old friend of hers took their own life without Cllr Conway Walsh noticing any warning signs. She reiterated calls she had previously made for all councillors to take part in the ASIST training programme to help identify the risks of suicide.

Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne, during the debate following the presentation, also informed the meeting of the alarming statistic that so far this year 23 people have taken their own lives in Mayo. He told the meeting: “It’s almost one a week and we are only half way through the year so far. These people come from all age groups and this number has trebled over the past three years and there is no sign of it abating.”

He said if 23 people had been killed on our roads, there would be a massive outcry for something to be done immediately.

Fianna Fáil councillor Annie May Reape welcomed the presentation to the council after it was placed on the agenda at her request. She also told the meeting: “I don’t want to hear that this is a matter for the HSE or some other organisation. It is a matter for us when dozens of our citizens have taken their lives by their own hand over the past number of years. The combined number of suicides in this county since 2010 is more than the number of councillors in this room.”

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