One is too many, never mind one a week

The time for talking about doing something has passed, and unfortunately for 23 families so far this year the time for doing something has passed also. At last Monday’s meeting of Mayo County Council, the members engaged in serious and at times heart-wrenching discussion about suicide.

The discussion was respectful and serious, but when Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne told the meeting that so far this year 23 people in Mayo have taken their lives, the seriousness of the issue was driven home to everyone. That’s almost one per week. If that static isn’t frightening enough, he went on to say that the numbers taking their life has trebled in the past three years, a 300 per cent increase is a frightening and saddening figure.

If 23 people were killed on the roads of the county, or there was a 300 per cent increase in the numbers dying on the roads here, there would be a massive public outcry and a serious investigation into the causes of it. It is high time that a similar attention is paid to this most difficult and tragic of issues. For too long the issue of mental health has been a taboo issue, something people were afraid to talk about and reach out for help. That cycle has to be broken and as much investment and effort as possible needs to be put into addressing this issue. It is time to offer an listening ear or a supportive hand if you feel that something is wrong or off with your friends or loved ones. Offering support doesn’t cost anything and is the easiest thing you can do. The sad reality is that no community is left untouched by these most tragic of losses and 23 suicides so far this year alone is too many, we all must do what we can to help those who feel they are helpless. There is no situation that should allow these people to feel there is no other option.

The Mayo Suicide Prevention Group, an association of 50 different statutory, voluntary and community groups came together two years ago to get involved in all levels of suicide prevention such as mental health promotion, suicide intervention (supporting people in a suicide crisis ), and suicide bereavement support. The groups key objectives are information/eductaion/training, improving co-ordination and communication, heighten and raise awareness of suicide support services in the county, reducing the stigma and exploring attitudes to suicide. This group is made up of organisations such as the HSE, Aware, Life Reach Out, Mayo VEC, Mayo Mental Health, Family Resource Centres, Mayo Intercultural Agency, Mayo Community Platform and a representative from the LGBT community.

This group addressed the last Monday’s meeting of Mayo County Council where they outlined their plans to organise a mental health well being campaign and they want to recruit a part time project worker would work in a similar way to the road safety officer who is already in situ in the county. While the council may not have funding for such a position in these stringent economic times, it’s a position that is well worth investing in, as any return on that investment would by far outweigh any potential cost it would incurred.

For anyone who feels they need to contact someone, you can get in touch with organisations such as The Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90 or Mayo Mental Health Association on 094 9038148.

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