Suicide is not a mental health problem it’s a community health issue


At some stage in our life we all feel low or down in ourselves. Life’s ups and downs, financial pressures, relationship break ups are all natural stresses.
Some people will overcome these stresses through help from their peers. Other people don’t as they feel they don’t want to be a burden. When these stresses are prolonged this is when there’s an issue.
1 in 20 people in our community will have a suicidal thought within a 14 day period but not all will act on them. That’s according to the World Health Organisation(WHO).
How can we hear a person in distress and at the same time support those people to choose life?
How can we reduce the number of people who die by suicide or sustain injuries through self harm?
Cobh based group Breaking the Silence, the suicide and intervention charity believe training and education is a key contributor in reducing the amount of deaths due to suicide.
A spokesperson for the organisation says “making people aware and educating local communities can prevent suicide. Talking about suicide will help stop the stigma in regards suicide and get to the heart of the problem. Generally people who are suicidal communicate their intent to other people. Most of the time this communication is very subtle. That’s why we educate the community so they can understand what that communication means and get that person help. ”
Recently I attended the groups Safe Talk and found the training very insightful. I think it’s important that all of us learn to spot the signs and do what we can to help anyone having suicidal thoughts. Many of us will experience bad mental health at some point in our lives and it’s important to be there, to listen and be able to direct people to the help that they need. Far too often it’s not those who are medically trained who come across a person with suicidal tendencies. It’s you and I. I strongly believe active listening and open communication is the key to helping those in distress in our community. I am pledging that I will listen to anyone that wants to talk to me about any thoughts on suicide that they might have. I strongly believe the Breaking the Silence ‘Safe Talk’ programme needs to be run in the country’s secondary schools as young teens are one of the most vulnerable groups. when I was a teenager if I had difficulties I would first turn to my peers before communicating with an adult. We need to educate our younger population that thoughts of suicide are not immoral, it just shows how much pain that person is in.
Hearing someone say I just want to end it all or I don’t want to be here anymore should alert someone to do something to get help. People who try to kill themselves understand the hopelessness they feel yet they don’t want to be a worry. It’s hard to understand how you get to that point where suicide seems like your last chance to get rid of the pain.
The primary aim of Breaking the silence is to connect a person with suicidal thoughts with other individuals or agencies that can make a difference and save people’s lives. According to the group people should talk about suicide but society is afraid to talk about it because there’s a fear people might just do it.”
People are an asset when they discover and accomplish their purpose in life.
Suicide robs our abilities that each one of us was uniquely born with.
Research by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found that 57 people aged between 15 – 24 died by suicide in 2013. That’s 17 less than 2012 for that age group.
Records show that nationally 475 people took their own lives last year compared to 507 the previous year.
This reduction is greatly welcomed however looking at the figures more closely we see that there was an increase in the number of middle-aged dying by suicide in 2013. 108 people aged between 45 -54 died compared to 86 in 2012.
Many people I have spoken to involved in suicide prevention feel the recent figures are inconclusive as collecting data on suicides is difficult. The cause of death may require a inquest that could take some time. Different agencies count suicides differently.
The HSE for instance will publish higher figures than that of the CSO.
Many feel the national suicide average is at least 20 per week.
If you wish to live in a suicide safer community Breaking the Silence can be contacted through their face book account Breaking The Silence Cobh or by email;
The organisation provide a number of free training programmes to the Community including Safe Talk, ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and a Peer Support Programme.
Check out the East Cork Journal over the next few weeks, as I discuss the lack of weekend Mental Health services in the East Cork area.
If you or anyone you know are in distress please contact any of the following organisations for assistance.
 HSE South Free-phone 24/7 Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1800 742 745
 HSE South Free-phone 24/7 Farm & Rural Stress Helpline: 1800 742 645
 1life Free-phone Suicide 24/7 Helpline: 1800 247 100 or Text ‘help’ to 51444
HSE South 24/7 Suicide Bereavement Helpline phone: 087 7986944
 Console Free-phone 24/7 helpline 1800 201 890
 Console’s Southern Region Office can be contacted on 021 4274218 or E-mail