Jodie Wynne, Christine Wynne, Coordinator SOSAD Cavan, Mairead Sheridan, and Damienne Galligan

Taking a step against suicide

A Ramor woman is set to walk 500km in the month of June in aid of SOSAD Cavan.

Mairead Sheridan has put on her walking shoes this month, aiming to cover 500km in 30 days to raise much needed funds. SOSAD Cavan is a non-government funded charity aimed at preventing suicide and offering bereavement support to those in need.

While the Virginia native is only at the beginning of her journey, she already has seen tremendous support from so many.

“I have different people in the community out walking with me every week, from friends, family and even local business owners. The support has been amazing, and it’s really appreciated!”

Businesses across Ireland have offered spot prizes which Mairead will be raffling off to anyone who makes a donation.

Mairead’s decision to take on such a challenge wasn’t one she took lightly.

“I never really did anything like this before, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and a lot of the people I told were very hesitant about my goal. So, I asked my personal trainer, Stephen Smyth from Elite Fitness, if he thought I would be capable of achieving it. He had full belief in me which helped me believe in myself,” she says.

Once Mairead was sure she could do it, she then decided on a charity.

“I chose SOSAD Cavan because their aim is something that I hold very close to my heart,” she says. “Suicide is something that has effected so many of us, so I wanted to do my part to raise awareness, but also to let people know that this support is there if and when they need it.”

However, before she made up her mind fully, she met with the SOSAD community who gave her a tour of their office.

“It was a very moving experience for me to meet the coordinators and tour their building. Their dedication to the cause radiated off every one of them, and the more they told me, the surer I got that this was the charity I would pick.”

Her decision was also supported by the fact that all the money she would raise would go directly towards helping the Cavan community, keeping the results of her hard work close to home.

Delighted with Mairead’s efforts, SOSAD coordinator Christine Wynne says:

“Mairead’s fundraiser along with other donations to SOSAD Cavan are so important to keep a service going which is offered to the community, within their community and is provided by community.

“Every one of us will at some point suffer from mental unwellness. That can range from a life event that will cause stress, anxiety, worry etc, right through to feeling like you would be better off leaving this world and thinking about suicide. The difference in going from one point to the other is the seeking of help.

“It’s about reaching out for support before things escalate and the bad days become bad weeks or months. The majority of us won’t speak with family or friends, or if we do we don't say it all. That is because of a couple of reasons; they won’t understand, the embarrassment, the guilt and they don't want to burden anyone else with what they see as their problem. So SOSAD are here to offer expert help by professional counsellors/therapists in the person's own area to offer that support free of charge.”

SOSAD provide a drop-in service called 'Hope'.

“We offer counselling to anyone who may be in crisis, suffering from any mental health issues or who may just need a little extra support while going through a difficult time. Bereavement support is also available, especially suicide bereavement support, as we all know that is very different to any other,” Christine says, emphasising that their helpline is open 24/7.

In recent weeks, SOSAD Cavan have seen a dramatic increase in numbers. Christine believes this is due to many different factors all brought on by Covid-19.

“We have seen our calls double in numbers. The lockdown has put an immense pressure on people. That old saying ‘you go to work for a break’ has never been more true. And most of the people we speak with are surprised to hear that they are not alone in feeling like this because generally they think they are, which adds to it feeling so wrong for them.”

Determined not to let the pandemic stand in their way of helping the increasing numbers, SOSAD have began counselling sessions over the phone, skype and zoom. They will reopen their premises on July 20 where they will offer their counselling sessions again. On July 27, they will also make their 'Hope' scheme available again.

While the prime focus of SOSAD is to help combat suicide, Christine wants people to know that their services are not limited to just that.

“Each Monday evening, we house the Family Addiction Network to support the families of addicts.” She days.

“The first Tuesday of the month we house Footprints, a support group for anyone who may have lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth or in infancy. All of these services are provided completely free of charge and all the professionals involved also give their time for free.”