According to the Central Statistics Office and Garda Siochana figures, there are at least two suicides in Ireland every day.
That was one of the shocking statistics revealed by Michelle Fox, Clinical Director and Counsellor & Psychotherapist at STOP Suicide. Michelle gave a talk about suicide and the role of Manorhamilton based STOP Suicide counselling service to the Landmark Hotel Coffee morning last Thursday, February 7.
525 people took their own lives in Ireland in 2011 and Garda figures showed that 50-70 people a month died by suicide in 2012 which Michelle Fox explains results in “two suicides in Ireland every day.” She added that 35 people over the past six months have contacted STOP to seek help. She said that amounts to 2-3 people contemplating suicide in the North West each week. She said it was “positive” to see these people contacting STOP.
Michelle explained that “Suicide is very often a cry for help, not a wish to die and it can be prevented.” She said life can be challenging and difficult and some “feel they have nothing to live for.”
There is no main reason for suicide, but she did note bullying, misunderstood anger, depression and lack of self worth as some of the main contributors.
Ms Fox said many of us assess ourselves and others based on career, house, car, marriage etc and when we lose some or all of these things, our self worth decreases and we become vulnerable. She noted that Irish people don’t like to talk about feelings. She said “we must work with what we have.” And encouraged parents to teach children to be open about their emotions. She noted that for so long the only acceptable emotion for men to have in public was anger and “we need to change that.”
She believes education and communication can eventually “cut the number of suicides.”
Ms Fox says that many people give warning signs of their intentions. She said some of the warning signs of suicide intentions include:
-Verbal threats eg “you’d be better off without me.”
-Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness
-Lack of interest in future plans
-Giving away prized possessions
-Risk taking behaviour
If you are concerned about someone who may be depressed or expressing suicidal thoughts you should offer support and LISTEN to what they have to day. Don’t give your opinion, just listen. Then seek professional help.
She also mentioned the suicide cocoon, Dr Harry Barry believes that there are situations when the suicidal person doesn’t show any signs. He believes that when the person has made the decision to die they become content with the idea and become happy, they decide to have fun for the time they are here and they protect all evidence of the plan.
Michelle Fox said that we should be aware that “one in five people will experience depression at some stage during their lives.” She said suicidal thoughts can affect people from age 9 - 100. She said young men aged between 18-24 are at high risk. She said “we are still developing until 25.”
For children Michelle advised that parents who want to bypass the HSE long waiting lists could check out IACP for a list of qualified councillors in the area.
Michelle urged people to join the Asist Suicide Prevention Training. Courses run on an on-going basis in various locations throughout County Leitrim. It is a two day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. The workshop trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of suicide and increase the support for a person at risk. It is open to everyone. For further details or to put your name on a waiting list please contact Belinda in HSE Health Promotion on 071 9135061.
STOP (Start Telling Others Prevent) Suicide aims to provide information on Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion in the North West. They run a 24 hour freephone call number and provide free counselling service, crisis intervention and solution focused therapy as well as bereavement support groups for those bereaved by suicide. They give ten free counselling sessions to those who call and are suicidal.
Their workshops, presentations and group sessions can cover self-esteem, self efficacy, emotional wellbeing, suicide, self harm and depression. The organisation was set up in 2004 by four families in North Leitrim that had been affected by suicide. They receive no funding and rely on the “kind people in the community.”
Freephone STOP (Start Telling Others Prevent ) Suicide on 1850 211877 or visit www.stopsuicide.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org they are also on Facebook, Twitter and youtube.