World Suicide Prevention Day was marked in the South East.
A number of events took place across the region last Friday, 10th September, with a particular emphasis on Traveller Mental Health.
Locally, these included special prayers and a poem at a Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Blessed Mary in Carlow Town. A collage of photographs from previous years’ events was shared on Facebook, in addition to a live-cast of contributions from SECH’s Traveller Mental Health Co-ordinator Mary Byrne and those employed by the HSE in the Carlow area as Traveller Primary Care Health Workers.
The Kilkenny Traveller Health Project distributed candles to families, which were in turn specially lit on the day to remember lost loved ones and to signal hope.
Speaking about the range of events held by the HSE, including those specific to the Traveller community in the South East, Tracy Nugent (HSE/South East Community Healthcare Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention) said “Suicide prevention is everyone’s concern. Looking after our mental health is a cornerstone for improving the health of our people. It is as important as physical health. Throughout the health services, we have structures in place to try to ensure that people get the right type of help and we continually strive to establish a better understanding of suicidal behaviour and to support communities to prevent and respond to issues associated with suicidal behaviour.”
She added “If you, a member of your family or someone you know is in distress or needs someone to talk to, help, support and advice are available. In the first instance contact your GP, if it is late in the evening or at the weekend call CAREDOC on (0818) 300 365. If you or someone is in immediate danger go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital or call the Emergency Services on 999 or 112.”
While Mary Byrne (Traveller Mental Health Co-ordinator, HSE/South East Community Healthcare) said “Latest figures show that suicide accounts for 11% of all Traveller deaths and that the suicide rate is seven times the national average for Traveller men and six times the national average for Traveller women. Every death by suicide is a tragic and devastating event that impacts on the lives of so many people. We are all part of communities which link us to friends, family, colleagues and/or neighbours. A sense of community is very important for maintaining our mental health and helps foster a supportive network for everyone, especially for those going through tough times. “