Centre to be lit up orange for suicide prevention day

Centre to be lit up orange for suicide prevention day

9 September 2020

NEWRY, Mourne and Down Council will mark World Suicide Prevention Day tomorrow by illuminating the Down Leisure Centre in orange.

The annual event provides an opportunity for people across the globe to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention with the local authority initiative welcomed by council chairwoman Laura Devlin and local councillors Roísín Howell and Cathy Mason.

Cllrs Howell and Mason are also appealing to Stormont health minister Robin Swann to develop

“more ambitious plans to prevent suicide” and to reform the health service to help deal with individuals “before they become part of horrific suicide statistics”.

While suicide rates vary by geographical area, in the local council area 32 people took their own life in 2014, with the number decreasing to 28 in 2018.

Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages and is responsible for over 800,000 deaths — that’s one suicide every 40 seconds.

In 2018, the highest number of 

male deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland occurred in the 25-29 age group (37 deaths), with 35 deaths in the 30 to 34 age group. The 45-49 age group experienced the highest deaths for females with 11 people taking their own life.

Cllr Devlin explained that to help combat suicide, the organisation has teamed up with local health trusts and the Public Health Agency and will participate in a regional mental health awareness campaign across its social media channels all this week.

“You can join us to help tackle suicide and raise awareness of the risks of suicide by putting the lifeline number in your phone 0808 808 8000,” said Cllr Devlin.“Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. 

“You can also complete the Towards Suicide Training at www.zerosuicidealliance.com/training and by lighting a candle near a window at 8pm tomorrow night to show your support for suicide prevention, remember a lost loved one and acknowledge the survivors of suicide.”

Cllr Howell described every life lost to suicide as a tragedy but said suicide was “preventable, not inevitable”.

She continued: “Unfortunately ‘not being okay’ is still at times widely stigmatised. There are still too many who suffer in silence but there are things we as a community can do to help. 

“Simple things like checking in on someone you know who is suffering from poor mental health or perhaps a quick message or phone call to a friend, neighbour, work colleague or someone that you have noticed is not themselves.”

Cllr Mason said that every year organisations and communities around the world come together to raise awareness of how to create a world where fewer people die by suicide. 

She said suicide rates amongst men and women are higher in the country than in the Republic of Ireland and the UK.

Cllr Mason also believes it is vitally important that everyone plays their part to raise as much awareness as possible around the tragedy of suicide that our communities face. 

She added: “It’s vitally important that we all talk about mental health, ask the difficult questions and give honest answers. Suffering from mental health illnesses must no longer carry any stigma.”

Cllrs Howell and Mason say it is important to take the time to talk and, more importantly, listen to those who may be suffering and urge them to seek professional help. 

The councillors added: “We all need to help in raising awareness of suicide within our society.” 

Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague and for each suicide, approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected.  

Almost every day in Northern Ireland a person takes their own life with the circumstances that leas to this complex and unique, with ascertaining why still poorly understood. 

Thoughts of suicide or suicidal behaviour may be triggered by a single event or a series of events over time. Risk factors, such as self-harm and mental illness - treated or untreated, are also linked to suicidal behaviour.  In men under 50, suicide is the leading cause of death in the UK.