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28 Nov 2021

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021: Connecting people and communities, creating hope

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021: Connecting people and communities, creating hope

The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day for 2021 is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’.

It is a timely reminder that we can all play our part in preventing suicide and demonstrate to those in our lives and communities, that there is hope.

Resource Officers for Suicide Prevention in the HSE Midlands Louth Meath Community Healthcare Organisation Josephine Rigney and Eddie Ward, acknowledge that ‘whilst suicide is a very complex issue, it is important that we always strive to signal to people who are vulnerable or experiencing suicidal thoughts, that we care and want to support them.  At this time of the year, and particularly at all other times of the year, this helps to create a more compassionate society where those who need to, feel comfortable in coming forward to seek help’.

Josephine continues, ‘we can all make a difference to the lives of those around us, by adopting the theme ‘creating hope through action’ and taking on one or more of the following actions that can help to create hope’.

One of these is ‘Reach In’: Reach in and connect with someone who you know might be struggling or to someone you know has struggled before.   Find some space and time to sit and be present with them.   Use some open questions and tell them that you care.   If they share things with you, listen – stay calm, be patient and kind.  You don’t need to have all the answers.  It can be really valuable for a person just to know that they are heard, and they are not alone at a difficult time’.

"If you are feeling low yourself, it is important that you give yourself the opportunity to create hope," advises Eddie.  Always remember that sharing things with someone else will help.  Reach out to talk to someone – someone close or even a support organisation.  It may feel frightening at first, but you don’t need to know or have the right words.   When you take the first small step and start to share what’s going on for you, everything will become clearer and you will feel more hopeful.  Take a minute to find out what help is available for both yourself and others  - Local GPs, MiDoc Out of Hours Service 1850 302 702/ NEDOC 1850 777 911; Hospital Emergency Departments, Pieta 24/7 Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 or face to face www.pieta.ie; Samaritans Freephone 116 123; Your Mental Health Information Line 1800 111888,  Text ‘Hello’ to 50808, online www.mymind.org. Other regional and national supports and services are listed on www.yourmentalhealth.ie.

Pieta provide a bereavement liaison service for those who have lost a family member or a friend or colleague to suicide and may like to avail of support with their grief.   The Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer for the Midlands is Bernie Carroll and she can be contacted on 086 418 0088 or email: bernie.carroll@pieta.ie.  Marian King is the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer for Louth/Meath – 085 738 0444, email marian.king@pieta.ie.  Midlands Living Links also provide a listening and support service and can be contacted through their Co-Ordinator on 086 1600641.    

"We can all support and help people to reconnect," says Josephine.  "A sense of belonging is important for our overall level of mental health and it is especially important for those who may have lost a sense of meaning in their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Seek out ways in which you can help people to reconnect - smile, give a compliment, start a conversation, encourage them to go for a walk, join a club, volunteer, etc.  

"All these can help boost self-esteem and decrease loneliness and isolation.     You can also show your support to World Suicide Prevention Day by connecting in with a support or community organisation, volunteer, help spread their message and become involved in activities that help promote positive mental health and wellbeing or suicide prevention in your community".

"It is important to remember that people can and do get through times of crisis," advises Eddie.  People can and do get through times of difficulty and hopelessness.  If you are concerned about someone who is going through a tough time and you would like to have the confidence to be able to help them and keep them safe, you can participate in the LivingWorks Start online suicide prevention training programme.  In this 90 minute programme, you will learn to recognise and identify people who may be at risk of suicide, confidently ask them about suicide and connect them with resources that can help them stay safe. See www.nosp.ie for more information.

Both Josephine and Eddie are also aware that the pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing has impacted on the way that their service interacts and make connections with individuals and communities, so they are keen to stress that the Resource Office for Suicide Prevention is available and they are always on hand to engage with people and organisations and assist with any concerns they may have. 

Information and details on all the regional support and services that are available to provide a listening ear and assistance are outlined on www.connectingforlifemidlandslouthmeath.ie. Awareness and support leaflets with regard to suicide prevention, self-harm or bereavement are also available on request. 

Contact details:

Josephine Rigney

Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention

Laois/Offaly,

Email: josephine.rigney@hse.ie

Mobile: 086 815 7850

Eddie Ward

Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention

Louth/Meath and Longford/Westmeath,

Email: eddie.ward@hse.ie

Mobile: 086 380 1152

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