World Suicide Prevention Day – Call For Greater Supports

The founder and CEO of one of the country’s leading suicide prevention organisations says Ireland still has a way to go when it comes to tackling the issues surrounding mental health and suicide.

Speaking in advance of World Suicide Prevention Day (which is on September 10th) Caroline McGuigan, who founded Suicide or Survive back in 2003, believes we all have responsibility to create the change that will ensure that there is a broad range of services and supports for people struggling with mental health and suicide.  There is no one service that can meet the needs of everyone and no one way to deal with the issue so providing choice is vital.

“We’ve come a long way as a country when it comes to mental health but there is so much more we can do.  We all have mental health just like we have dental and physical health and this needs to be recognised and mental health needs to be prioritised if we are to reduce the number of people who die by suicide in Ireland every year.  We are taught how to look after our dental and physical health and there are simple things we can learn to do every day that can make all the difference in the world to our mental health” 

Feeling connected and being part of a community and something bigger than ourselves can really benefit our mental health individually and collectively.  Caroline believes that it is only by everyone working together that we can create change.

“Everything we do at Suicide or Survive we do in partnership.  We have wonderful partners in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors and work hard to develop relationships based on open communication, transparency and a genuine passion for positive change.”

According to Caroline, who is also a practicing psychotherapist;

“We need to provide a range of services and supports that are flexible in their approach and that cover the broad spectrum of mental health from everyday wellness right through to services and supports for people who have hit a crisis in their lives.  While we are now talking more about mental health and wellness in general, we are still slow to talk about our own mental health because of the stigma that continues to exist.  It is only by breaking down stigma and making mental health the everyday issue that it is for all of us that people will feel free to ask for help.”

Caroline set up Suicide or Survive based on her own experience of mental health struggles. She survived a suicide attempt and spent eight years as a user of psychiatric services.  Her own experience and the experience of others who have used and continue to use the services of Suicide or Survive have informed all of the programmes and services offered by the organisation.  According to Caroline:

“Every programme we develop and deliver is co-produced and co-facilitated by people with lived experience of mental health difficulties and/ or supporting loved ones who have struggled with their mental health.”

Suicide or Survive runs a range of programmes across the spectrum mentioned above.  Their Eden Programme for is for people who have attempted or thought about suicide, the Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) programme supports people to develop their own action plan for their wellness from daily maintenance right through to crisis and post-crisis planning, and the the one day Wellness Workshop which is delivered in communities and workplaces throughout Ireland which is packed full of tips and techniques anyone can use to manage and maintain their everyday wellness.

Suicide or Survive have also launched an online Wellness Workshop at www.wellnessworkshop.ie, and a new ‘Supporters Programme’ for people who are supporting others who are struggling with their mental health. They also work in partnership with Wheatfield Place of Detention and Cloverhill Prison to bring Wellness Workshops and WRAP programmes to the prisoners there and have developed an innovative programme to train prisoners as mental health mentors.

Suicide or Survive are currently running their ‘National Tea Break’ campaign to encourage individuals, communities and organisations to break down stigma by having a cuppa and a chat about mental health and raise much needed funds for the organisation. More information www.suicideorsurvive.ie

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