Suicide prevention workers across Co Longford and the wider midlands region have urged those suffering from suicidal thoughts to speak out about their problems.
STOP, a registered charity whcih provides professional assistance and support to individuals and families affected by suicide reported a 40 per cent rise in the number of cases it has dealt with over the past eight months.
"I would have noticed a definite rise from May onwards," Mary McTiernan, Co Leitrim based STOP organiser, pointed out this week. "We also found there to be an increase in the number of males over the age of 55 which in most cases was down to debt problems and the recession."
Other agencies have also reported a hike in the number of calls from those in the late teens to under 40 age bracket. Catherine Rowntree, regional development officer with mental health organisation Shine, said the escalation in case numbers was primarily because many people were simply unaware of the many supports available.
"When we (Shine) changed our name in February 2009 from Schizophrenia Ireland ther was an immediate impact. I saw quite quickly a lot of people who maybe had no contact with psychiatrists but who were feeling distressed and just didn't know where to go."
Ms Rowtree added the main contributory factor which has helped scores of its clients to overcome suicidal thoughts was largely due to one overriding factor.
"All of the people I spoke to have almost always said that talking has helped them feel so much better," she said, before adding that a range of workshops under the overall title of 'Taking Control' were likely to be rolled out across Longford in future weeks.
Mark Noble, senior youth officer with Co Longford Youth Services, said all of its workers carried ASIST qualifications (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). He said, while not strictly geared to offer advice to teenagers, support would be made available to young adolescents where possible.
"We are aware that it is on the increase and if a young person wanted to come in and talk to one of us we would have no problems at all with that," saying the matter would then likely be referred on to a doctor or child psychologist.
The GAA, which has arguably the best community network in the country, has also been the forefront of highlighting the issue of suicide prevention, under the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention programme (ASAP).
"It is something that we are being made more and more aware of," said Leinster ASAP officer, Martin Skelly. "We have asked clubs to improve standards and we are conscious that it is an issue we need to deal with. What we are saying is that there is help out there to all of our members the length and breadth of the province."
If you have been affected by suicide, or if you would like to talk to someone, local organisations point out that there are a number of places where you can go to seek help and advice. Below is a list of helpline numbers that are currently available:
STOP (Leitrim) 071 9164286; 087 4188053;
Shine (086) 8525281,
GAA Alcohol and Prevention, Pearse Park (043) 3345219;
Longford Youth Service (043) 3340907.
Grow: 1890 474 474 / 057 93 51124
Mental Health Ireland: Regional Development Officer: 086-8353387.
Samaritans: 1850 60 90 90 / Text: 087-260 9090; Email: email@example.com
Teenline-Helpline: 1800 833 634 / www.teenline.ie
1 life suicide helpline:1800 247 100 (24 hr professional counselling service)www.1life.ie.
Midlands Living Links: 086-1600641.