The South Tipperary district coroner Paul Morris is among a group of speakers who are taking part in a forthcoming suicide information evening organised by local man, and member of Clonmel Borough Council, Joe Leahy, in association with the Irish Association of Suicidology. This is the third suicide awareness event organised by Mr Leahy, but the first of 2013, and it takes place in the Hotel Minella on April 15, featuring a number of speakers from various sectors of society and across different disciplines. As well as Mr Morris, Dr John Connolly from the Irish Association of Suicidology, Gerry Flynn, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, and April Duff and Jamie Moore from Waterford Comhairle na nÓg will also take part.
In his role as district coroner, Mr Morris has had several deaths by suicide come before his coroner’s court. He has made headlines with his outspoken views, notably speaking out about the procedures adopted by Revenue to collect debts owed and is particularly concerned about the need for Irish society to focus on mental health issues.
Dr John Connolly is co-founder and secretary, Irish Association of Suicidology. He is also a consultant psychiatrist and a long-time campaigner for suicide prevention and has also served on Pieta House’s board since its inception. He comments regularly on suicide issues in the national media.
Local man Gerry Flynn, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, has over 20 years experience working with young people as guidance counsellor in second level education. He has run several mental health awareness workshops and has experience of facilitating groups of young people who are affected by the death of a friend by suicide.
April Duff and Jamie Moore from Waterford will represent Comhairle na nÓg, a local youth council comprising young people between 12 and 18 who work to make positive change for their peers. Last summer the group turned their attention to suicide prevention and produced “Mind Matters”, a video promoting positive mental health. Mayor of Clonmel, Cllr Billy Shoer will also be in attendance on the night.
This information evening which is supported by the South Tipperary G.A.A. Board, is free and open to everyone, and members of the public are encouraged to attend.
“The aim of the evening is to help and support people who have been affected – either directly or indirectly, by suicide, and the of the evening is ‘Taking Positive Action,” said Mr Leahy.
“So often, our response to suicide is one of helplessness – we don’t know what we, as individuals can do. Each of the speakers at the information night has, in their own and very different way, taken positive action to help tackle the tragedy of suicide in our communities and to support those bereaved by suicide,” he said.
Mr Leahy has welcomed the Government’s plan to launch a suicide prevention campaign, announced last January, saying that every awareness programme or information event will help but he said he would like to see open forums take place in schools for parents, teachers and pupils to discuss the issue of suicide.
He also believes that public representatives should receive training to be able to help people who have suicidal tendencies or mental health issues and who go to them seeking help.
“I have had people come to me looking for help, I think public representatives should have training, a lot of people need guidelines on how to deal with this,” he said.
He has completed a two-day ASSIST course, which he said was a great help.
“This helped me because it helps you to spot the signs, as to where a person’s head is and how they are feeling. All public representatives should do this course,” he added.
The suicide awareness evening takes place on Monday April 15 at 7pm.