Events in Carlow and across the counties of the south east on World Suicide Prevention Day recently marked the occasion with a particular emphasis on Traveller Mental Health.
The various activities in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford were supported by HSE/South East Community Healthcare (SECH).
Among the events held in Co. Carlow was the inclusion of special prayers and at a Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Blessed Mary in Carlow Town. A collage of photographs from previous years’ events were shared on Facebook, in addition to a live-cast of the reading of a poem titled ‘Hope’ written by a local Traveller lady.
Among the events held in Co Carlow was the inclusion of special prayers and a poem at a Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Blessed Mary in Carlow Town. A collage of photographs from previous years’ events were shared on Facebook, in addition to a live-cast of the reading of a poem titled ‘Hope’ written by a local Traveller lady.
The Kilkenny Traveller Health Project distributed candles to families, which were in turn specially lit on World Suicide Prevention Day to remember lost loved ones and to signal hope.
A pocket/wallet card with helpline numbers was launched by the Tipperary Traveller Rural Project (funded by the HSE Regional Suicide Resource Office under “Connecting for Life”) on World Suicide Prevention Day. Two outdoor coffee mornings were also staged by the Clonmel Traveller Project to provide information for Travellers on mental health awareness, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day and to remember lost loved ones.
A specially pre-recorded event, featuring singers, musicians, poets and actors in the Traveller community (organised by Exchange House as part of the National Traveller Together Preventing Suicide Campaign) was shared on Facebook in Dungarvan and Waterford, with families encouraged to “shine a light” to mark the day. A similar initiative was under way in the Wexford area.
One of the highlights of activities marking World Suicide Prevention Day in Co. Wexford was the planting of a memorial tree at Drumgoold, Enniscorthy. In an initiative sponsored by the Ferns Diocesan Youth Service (FDYS) and supported by HSE/South East Community Healthcare, Travellers in the local community wrote names of lost loved ones on yellow ribbons and tied them to the tree. Later in the evening, a priest came to bless the tree as part of a small, socially distant outdoor Mass and the tree was surrounded by lights.
Speaking about the range of events held by the HSE, including those specific to the Traveller community in the South East, Tracy Nugent (HSE/South East Community Healthcare Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention) said:
“Suicide prevention is everyone’s concern. Looking after our mental health is a cornerstone for improving the health of our people. It is as important as physical health. Throughout the health services, we have structures in place to try to ensure that people get the right type of help and we continually strive to establish a better understanding of suicidal behaviour and to support communities to prevent and respond to issues associated with suicidal behaviour.”
“If you, a member of your family or someone you know is in distress or needs someone to talk to, help, support and advice are available. In the first instance contact your GP, if it is late in the evening or at the weekend call CAREDOC on (0818) 300 365. If you or someone is in immediate danger go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital or call the Emergency Services on 999 or 112.”
Latest figures show that suicide accounts for 11% of all Traveller deaths and that the suicide rate is seven times the national average for Traveller men and six times the national average for Traveller women.
What you can do:
· Reach In to someone you know who might be struggling or who has struggled in the past
· Reach Out to talk to someone if you are feeling particularly low or hopeless
· Reconnect with the people and the things in your life that were meaningful for you in the past and the connections that you may have lost during the pandemic
· Learn More by participating in a training course to learn more about suicide prevention e.g. Living Works START, contact 051 874013 or [email protected] for more details
· Show Your Support by connecting with a community organisation that promotes positive mental health and wellbeing, become a volunteer
· Know Where To Turn by getting to know what supports and services are available
· Samaritans, 24/7 Freephone 116 123
· 24/7 Crisis Textline, Text HELLO to 50808
· Pieta 24/7 Freephone 1800 247 247