Adams and Munster briefed by SOSAD on work of suicide prevention group
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams and Councillors Imelda Munster and Eimear Ferguson met with SOSAD (Save our Sons and Daughters) the Louth based suicide prevention organisation on Friday July 10 at their offices in Drogheda.
SOSAD was founded in 2006 by Peter Moroney , with the help of family and friends, following the loss of his son Simon to suicide in 2003.
Gerry Adams TD said:
“I want to commend the work of SOSAD and the many other suicide prevention groups who provide an essential service helping individuals at risk of suicide and families traumatised by the death of a loved one.
Their efforts undoubtedly save lives every day. But they do so with inadequate resources and funding.
The recently published National Strategy to Reduce Suicide 2015-2020 is an important development. The most recent statistics for 2014 show that 459 persons - 368 males and 91 females - took their own lives in this state. There are a number of other undetermined deaths – 62 – which may also be suicide related.
In our conversation with SOSAD it is clear that there is a real concern at the lack of co-ordination involving state and local groups and agencies working on this issue.
In its recently published strategy the government acknowledges the importance of “well-structured and co-ordinated community-based initiatives” and how these can translate into “protective benefits for families and individuals, which contribute to reduced risk of suicidal behaviour. An empowered community can respond to the needs of its members and protect them in difficult times and can sustain these positive effects over time. The work of and partnership formed amongst HSE Resource Officers for Suicide Prevention and non-statutory organisations is crucial in ensuring this goal is met.”
The government now needs to act on this by ensuring that a multi-agency approach also includes all of those community and largely voluntary based groups and where necessary additional funding, especially for the provision of counselling services, should be provided.
SOSAD provides a range of supports to anyone who may be affected or concerned about suicide. The services are completely free of charge, and SOSAD relies on the generosity and kindness of the wider community, and it relies also on sponsorship and fundraising.
SOSAD also believes that more needs to be done in raising public awareness about suicide. I agree. Compare the money spent on a weekly basis in advertising and seeking to raise awareness about road traffic deaths and that which is spent on suicide prevention. Last year at least 459 citizens died by suicide – and this figure does not include those thousands who are self-harming. There were 196 deaths on our roads.
In addition we must not lose sight of the numbers of young people at risk. The youth suicide rate in this state is the fourth highest in Europe after Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.
Suicide impacts not just on families but also on communities. The sense of powerlessness and of grief is enormous and in some instances also leads to suicide.
There is a specific onus on the government to put in place a partnership process involving all of the Departments, State agencies, non-statutory organisations and, perhaps most importantly, local communities that are affected by this issue.
Suicide does not stop at the border. There are approximately 300 deaths by suicide in the north and it is widely accepted that the real figure for suicide is higher and that as many as 1000 citizens die across this island each year by suicide.
The human cost on families and communities is devastating. The reality is that all sections and all generations of our society are affected, from the very young to the very old, and in rural and urban areas."
Councillor Munster called for a co-ordinated, all-island strategy for tackling suicide. She said:
“One significant contribution to tackling suicide and self-harm would be greater co-operation between the health services north and south. In particular the creation of an all-Ireland Suicide Prevention Agency that would co-ordinate the work of all of those involved would bring immediate benefits."
Console which is a state wide suicide prevention has a 24-hour helpline at freephone 1800 201 890 or it can be contacted by texting ‘HELP’ to 51444, or at its website: www.console.ie.
Public Initiative For The Prevention Of Suicide And Self- Harm (PIPS) is a support service for people who need intervention or for those who have survived suicide loss. It can be contacted at T 086 193 3074: www.pipsproject.com
Save Our Sons and Daughters (Sosad) can be contacted at 041 984 8754 and w www.sosadireland.ie
The H.S.E. Suicide Prevention Helpline
Free Phone 1800 222 282
Samaritans Drogheda can be contacted at 041 984 3844: Locall 1850 60 90 90