Pieta House has announced the opening of its first suicide and self-harm crisis centre in the west of Ireland. Located in Tuam, Co Galway, this will be Pieta House’s third centre of excellence, and will greatly extend the scope of its services which are currently centred around Dublin and Limerick.
John Concannon, businessman, philanthropist, and star of RTÉ’s The Secret Millionaire, has been the main driving force behind the campaign to open a Pieta House centre in the west. “The campaign to open a centre here in Tuam has been ongoing for the past 18 months and the support we’ve received from the local community has been really extraordinary,” he said. “It’s been a three county fundraising effort with Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon all working together, and we’re very close to reaching our target amount of €250,000. We have very active committees campaigning and fundraising in each county, and we could not have achieved this great result without their commitment and dedication.”
A residential premises on Bishop Street in Tuam has already been secured, and there is a change-of-use planning application in with the local council. The house is currently just a shell, but unemployed local tradespeople have generously committed their time and skills to transforming it into a suitable space. This internal work on the house is due to start in five to six weeks’ time.
“Last week’s decision by the Government to use the €35 million allocated for mental health services this year to offset the deficit in the HSE is very disappointing,” said Joan Freeman, CEO and founder of Pieta House. “This move is further proof that we all need to come together as a community in the fight against suicide and make things happen for ourselves. The opening of our Tuam centre would not have happened without John Concannon, and such local heroes are needed now more than ever,” she said.
The demand for Pieta House’s services continues to grow, and the first six months of this year saw a 40 per cent increase in the number of people attending Pieta House. The age groups that saw the biggest increase were men aged 26 to 44 (62 per cent ) and men aged 45 to 64 (67 per cent ).
“Although this increase is encouraging, we still find that men are far less likely than women to seek help, particularly those in the under-25 age group. We urge people to contact us if they believe that one of their family members or friends may be in difficulty,” said Joan Freeman.
Pieta House provides its services free of charge and by the end of this year will have helped more than 8,000 people since its establishment in 2006.