‘So soon... too soon’

DEMAND Ad campaign needed to address suicide ‘epidemic’

When the lead co-ordinator at SOSAD Cavan turned the latch on the door of the charity’s Bridge Street offices on Monday morning, she faced a group of volunteers gathered in shared disbelief.

Another weekend, another young life lost to suicide. Another funeral to prepare for, another family, community and group of friends left behind to pick up the pieces.

“It was a case of ‘what the actual f**k is going on’?” Christine Wynne states bluntly. “Here we are again, and so soon... so soon... too soon.”

The latest death to devastate the county has prompted the local suicide prevention and awareness professional to recommend the government roll-out advertising similar to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) shock-tactic ad campaign aimed at deterring drink driving and speeding.

“We’re operating in an epidemic within a pandemic,” suggests Christine, speaking to The Anglo-Celt this week. “We need to get the message home. There was a time there a few years ago when drugs were out of control, or road deaths, showing people on life support. I think the time has come where we need to start showing people the finality of suicide. They need to see families grieving. They need to see a friend lying in a coffin. They need to see headstones.”

As stated time and time before, Christine says everyone can relate to wanting a problem to end in some form.

But Christine figures: “Particularly young people, they want the death of a problem, they want it very much now but the question now is whether they’re aware the death of a problem by suicide means actually biological death, or the impact that has on everyone around them.”

She further suggests that the impulsivity around drug and alcohol abuse may also be a factor.

“We’re not seeing what’s happening when these young people are out - what they’re engaging in. Us, as parents, as a community, see only them going out and having a good time. But there are factors we don’t see, which I believe is having a massive impact, especially on mental health. It’s impulsive, it’s instant, it clouds judgement, and the outcomes are heartbreaking.”

The result is that there are those within the SOSAD organisation in Cavan who now readily dismiss the cliched mental health adage of ‘it’s okay not to feel okay’.

“If you’re not okay, you do something about it. If you break a leg, you go to the doctor; sore tooth, go to the dentist, and if your mental health is suffering, you seek support,” says Christine.

Noting that everyone handles depression differently, Christine implores there is “no problem that cannot be solved. It might not be solved 100% to the way you want it to be, but it can be solved with some thought, some consideration, some support, and some guidance. If young people are seeking help, but want to speak anonymously, we are here for them. Please pick up the phone. Please take the time.”

Christine’s comments come a week after a local TD asked the Government to provide more primary care psychologist supports, as well as a Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse (SCAN) service in Cavan-Monaghan.

Fianna Fail’s Niamh Smyth further asked that the Government facilitate the roll-out of Jigsaw into Cavan-Monaghan, a youth mental health service model focused on prevention and early intervention aimed at young people (age 12 to 25 years).

She made the plea to the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Anne Rabbitte.

“There is another community gripped by grief and it just is not right,” she said in the wake of recent local deaths by suicide. “I talk about a 16-year-old girl. Last week, it was an 18-year-old young man. A number of weeks before that it was another 18-year-old man and before that, one family in Cavan Town lost two members of their family, a brother and sister, to suicide a week apart.”

Deputy Rabbitte replied by acknowledging there no constituency in the country untouched by suicide.

“It is important that we also continue to build resilience in all communities to reduce the incidence of suicide. It is also important to ensure, where such a tragedy occurs, that we have sufficient supports in place to help those who need them. The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention works closely with the CHOs, local agencies and communities to deliver strategies and services in the most appropriate manner, in line with available resources and evolving services.”

A suicide intervention officer is available 24 hours a day on 049-4326339 or083-423 9090, cavan@sosadireland.ie