Suicide Awareness Seminar

This morning SOSAD Ireland held a suicide awareness seminar in The Westcourt Hotel in Drogheda for members of the Oireachtas from the surrounding region. The seminar was organised and chaired by TD for Louth Ged Nash, opened by Mayor Kevin Callan and attended by Louth TD’s Gerry Adams and Fergus O’Dowd, along with Senator Mary Moran and TD for Meath Regina Doherty.

SOSAD Ireland volunteers made three core presentations:

The first offered information on the statistical inaccuracies regarding suicide figures provided by the Central Statistics Office. The figures published are much lower than estimates from multiple state and private organisations.

The second presentation was about the development and growth of SOSAD Ireland since 2008. This presentation also addressed the amount of work SOSAD Ireland does with specific reference to the number of people each branch helps, from answering emergency calls to scheduling counselling hours.

The final presentation was about the work of the volunteers at SOSAD Ireland on a daily basis. The speaker talked about the challenges faced on a daily basis by these unpaid, yet highly dedicated people.

Finally, the founder and driving force behind SOSAD Ireland, Peter Moroney, said a few words around the help that we and other similar community based organisations need in order to continue working with people. He also offered a couple of suggestions for national improvement in the field of suicide prevention.

After the presentations were finished time was given to the members of the Oireachtas and other people in attendance to say a few words and make comments on what they had heard.

Deputy Gerry Adams made some key comments and suggestions. He said that maybe a good way to proceed would be with cross border activity. As suicide knows no borders we should also know no borders. Suicide is a world problem, and we can not solve it by ourselves. This was well received and we hope to look into establishing some strong ties.

Deputy Regina Doherty was very enthusiastic in her support. The National Office of Suicide Prevention recently refused funding to SOSAD Ireland on the grounds that as an organisation it is not nationally relevant. Deputy Doherty said “If you are not nationally relevant then I don’t know who is.” She made a commitment to email all of the members of the Oireachtas and the Seanad to request funds in response to the SOSAD Navan coordinator after she voiced a desire to not become a fundraiser, but to have more time for helping people.

Deputy Ged Nash was as always a very compassionate and compelling speaker with regard to SOSAD Ireland, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his support. I would also thank all of the other representatives in attendance today. They all offered words of encouragement and support, and acknowledged the need for more action

Overall I would consider the seminar a great success, even though many of the representatives invited by Deputy Nash were unavailable. The information provided was solid and the enthusiasm conveyed by the attendees was encouraging for the future of suicide prevention.

I would ask that anyone who reads this and later has an opportunity to speak to their local representative to please bend their ear over suicide prevention and awareness for even a few moments. We can make a difference on the small community scale. And if a whole of small communities make that effort then we can save a whole lot of lives.

If anyone would like a copy of the information provided today please go to SOSAD Ireland and either email the office or call the number listed.

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