A new Mayo suicide awareness group which was launched this week in Westport has highlighted the huge pressures and suicide risks associated with the festive time of year and particularly around Christmas.
Launching Talkaboutit.ie which is a new national voluntary suicide awareness group based in Westport, Mayo GAA senior football manager James Horan said that he was hugely impressed with the ethos and mission of this new group.
“I have attended a lot of launches, functions and presentations this year but rarely have I heard such powerful stories and passionate speakers. I highly commend and endorse the work of talkaboutit.ie. Suicide has affected every single parish in this country and unless it is confronted with open and honest discussion and debate advocated by groups like talkaboutit.ie then it will continue to be a major issue in Ireland,” commented Horan as he launched the new voluntary initiative.
Founder of talkaboutit.ie Westport native Joe McGuire said he was delighted with the support and encouragement he had received since he mooted the idea six months ago.
“My interest in depression and suicide awareness stems from an article I read while waiting for a train in Manchester. In the article, police authorities were apologising to the family of a 44-year-old man who killed himself after ringing the police station seeking help. He was advised to; ‘Crack on. I’ll call an undertaker’. I thought this was just so sad and I felt sorry, obviously for the person who was suffering but also for the policeman who didn’t know how to deal with the situation properly. I found when I started looking into it that there was a degree of ignorance around Ireland towards suicide and many people in positions of authority were unable to point people towards support organisations,” Joe said.
Talkaboutit.ie advocates that talking about a problem is often the best treatmentent. The group wants to make suicide prevention and positive mental health a frontline issue in public and political forums in Ireland.
Other speakers at the well attended launch of talkaboutit.ie included Tosh Lavery from Searching for the Missing, author and journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Garda Inspector Joe McKenna, GMIT Student Union President Alan Judge, Gary Breen of Mind your Mind and Galway County Councillor Peter Roche who lost his son Colin to suicide in 2010.
In an emotional and personal address to the large attendance at the launch Cllr Roche commented that suicide is a very permanent solution to a very temporary problem.
“Before Colin’s death I didn¹t know where to find help now I know for all the wrong reasons. I always tell people that talking about suicide is the only way it can ever be prevented. We lost our son Colin tragically in the prime of his life and it is something that will always stay with us. We’ve found that talking to other families has helped us enormously,” commented Roche.
Thanking all in attendance and especially all the Talkaboutit.ie volunteers Joe McGuire stated that the upcoming Christmas period could be very difficult for a lot of families.
“There can be a lot of unneccessary stress and worry at this time of year and I firmly believe that talking about it is one of the best solutions. I hope that Talkaboutit.ie can in some small way be of help and support to people going through difficult times. Our door will always be open,” commented McGuire.