The size of the attendance, almost two hundred people of all ages, at a suicide information meeting in Clonmel, reflected the impact suicide has had on communities throughout South Tipperary.
This was the third such meeting held in Clonmel in a short space of time aimed at creating awareness of suicide, lifting the stigma and providing information on the support mechanisms available.
The theme of the meeting focused on taking positive action to tackle the tragedy of suicide in our community and it was evident from the meeting that both the organisers and the people who attended were united in the intent to lead the way on this issue which had brought devastating heartbreak to so many families in South Tipperary.
The organisers deserve tremendous credit for taking the initiative on the matter and the response from the public has been very encouraging.
In the past four years, the number of deaths by suicide that have come before the South Tipperary district coroner’s court has doubled from nine to 18. A move to secure the opening of a branch of Pieta House, a suicide and self-harm crisis centre, in Clonmel received strong support.
At the event Gerry Flynn, President of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors highlighted how the Government’s recent negative actions could have serious consequences for young people with personal or mental health issues in schools. Mr Flynn said each week he receives calls from fellow guidance counsellors working in schools and colleges of further education, alerting him to issues of self harm, suicide ideation and tragically, suicide.
He condemned the Government’s decision to reduce guidance and counselling services in schools, making it more difficult for students to avail of one-to-one support from such counsellors who are trained to help vulnerable young people. According to Mr Flynn the reduction of guidance and counselling services from schools equates to at least a 50% drop in one-to-one counselling in schools. That was just one of the important issues to be accorded a public platform and it is commendable that such meetings are being organised in the community given the unbearable distress suicide brings to so many.