Speaking in the Dáil today on the issue of suicide Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe, a patron of phone counselling and awareness service Teenline, said the system in place to support vulnerable children in some schools is not working.
Deputy Crowe also raised the need for chill out rooms in hospitals to take patients away from the bedlam in accident and emergency units.
“Last year a young lad from a neighbouring constituency took part in a play as part of a suicide awareness programme. Having taken part in it, one would have expected him to realise the pain and suffering his family, friends and colleagues would go through, but he ended up taking that path.
“On his first anniversary another kid from the same school took that path. Support is available in that school. I asked one of his schoolmates how he felt and how he was affected. He told me support was available but that if they wanted counselling, they slipped a note under the door of the school principal. Then they were called out of class.
“If one is not a hard chaw – many of these kids are not – they will be asked why they were called out and the principal wanted to see them. Young men and boys do not want people to know that they need counselling or help. The system in place in that school does not work.
“I know of a volunteer worker who was involved in counselling and came across a young girl of 15 years who talked about taking her own life. As there was no adult at home, she was brought to the accident and emergency unit. Having built up a relationship with the girl, the volunteer who acted as advocate could not remain with the girl because there was no family link.
“The accident and emergency unit was bedlam at a time, but the girl had been brought in on her own. If there was a chill room as part of the hospital system, an advocate could remain with the person concerned. There is a need for the system to realise that when people are vulnerable, they need to sit outside the madness of the accident and emergency unit. We all know such stories.
“We must set targets. Other speakers referred to the number of deaths on the roads and the amount of money spent in tackling that problem. There is no urgency in tackling this issue. We must set targets to reduce the figures.” ENDS