Event in Longford to mark World Suicide Prevention Day

Alan Walsh


Alan Walsh

A series of youth mental health talks 'Sport Your Mind' will take place at rugby clubs across the Midlands, including Longford RFC on Wednesday, September 24. Pictured promoting the event are l to r; Pat Fitzgerald (IRFU President), Anthony O'Prey (Health Promotion OLDC/HSE), Niamh Kavanagh (Irish Rugby International), Joe Schmidt (Ireland Head Coach), Derek Turner (Junior Midlands Rep), Josephine Rigney (Acting Suicide Prevention and Resource HSE), Damien Curley (Midland Area Secretary) and Robert McDermott (Vice-President Leinster Rugby). Picture Nick Bradshaw
Today, Wednesday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day and the theme of the day is ‘Suicide Prevention: One World Connected’. The theme reflects the fact that connections are important at several levels if we are to combat suicide.

Today, Wednesday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day and the theme of the day is ‘Suicide Prevention: One World Connected’. The theme reflects the fact that connections are important at several levels if we are to combat suicide.

And later today, at The Family Centre on St Mel’s Road, Longford there will be an Evening of Reflection and Remembrance from 6 to 7pm. The event has been organised by the staff of ACORN and LCRL.

While there is also an Ecumenical Service of Remembrance and Hope in Christ the King Cathedral, Mullingar at 7.30pm and this has been organised by Midland Living Links.

The World Health Organisation have said, “Connectedness is crucial to individuals who may be vulnerable to suicide. Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of suicide and, conversely, that having strong human bonds can be protective against it. Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a life-saving act.”

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, the HSE Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Services for the Midlands are highlighting current service delivery and calling on the public to connect and harness the individual ability to make a difference.

Josephine Rigney, Suicide Prevention and Resource Officer, HSE Midlands, “The key focus of mental health promotion work within the HSE Midlands Area is to foster within the community an awareness that mental health is everybody’s concern. All initiatives and awareness and skills training programmes are aimed at increasing community awareness and understanding of mental health and suicide issues and helping to develop capacity for individuals and communities to promote positive mental health and to be in a position to identify and respond appropriately, effectively and in a timely manner when difficulties may arise with regard to an individuals mental health. “

The HSE Midlands has developed strong partnership with the voluntary providers working across mental health promotion and suicide prevention. This work has led to the development of mental health promotion projects which are planned and coordinated on an identified needs basis and targeted to those groups who are most vulnerable. The HSE are working with organisations on an partnership basis and have recently allocated substantial aid under Community Resilience Funding from the National Office of Suicide Prevention.

Some of this work includes;


Good 2 Talk is an effective and accessible low cost counselling service which is provided to support people in the community in maintaining positive mental health. Good 2 Talk seeks to proactively work towards resolving issues that cause a decline in the mental well being of people at the earliest point of intervention possible. Client needs and differences are respected and an evidence-based approach is provided. Barriers to gaining access to effective therapeutic interventions are removed to the greatest extent possible. Costs are removed, self referrals are taken and people can just walk in, ring or make a web inquiry. The organisation is staffed by Volunteer Counsellors who have accredited professional counselling and psychotherapy qualifications. A wide range of issues such as depression, relationship problems, loss and bereavement, suicide and self-harm, stress, and other emotional concerns are addressed.

The service is located at 1 College Street, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath and is available to the geographical base of Westmeath, Longford and Offaly. Contact details: Telephone: 044 93 32531. Email: info@Good2Talk.ie. Web: www.Good2Talk.ie.

Midland Living Links

Midland Living Links aim to minimise the distress felt by those bereaved by suicide and provides a voluntary listening and outreach support service throughout the Midlands. Practical help, support and a listening ear is provided which ensures that bereaved persons do not feel isolated or vulnerable. Support Workers meet with the bereaved at a designated centre, at the home of the bereaved or a location which best suits the bereaved person.

Facilitators attend at Coroners Courts whereby families are supported through the Inquest process and helped to reduce unnecessary anguish. Community events such as Coffee Mornings, Bereavement Support Groups etc are organised on an ongoing basis. Ecumenical Services of Remembrance and Hope are organised to take place on World Suicide Prevention Day with the aim of creating awareness of suicide prevention, supporting those bereaved by suicide and giving a message of hope for the future. A Family Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service is also being established. This service will be available across the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath to families bereaved by suicide and will offer early support, information and signposting to other relevant services and will provide a co-ordinated and supportive response to families and communities following a death by suicide. A Steering Group will overseee the ongoing development and implementation of the project.

Midlands Living Links provide a service to the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath and can be contacted on: Midlands Living Links - Co-Ordinator: 086 1600641

Jigsaw Offaly

Jigsaw Offaly, as part of the Headstrong network of Jigsaw sites, works with young people and the public to:

- ensure access to youth friendly, integrated mental health supports when and where young people from Offaly need them in their community

- build the confidence and capacity of front line workers and volunteers to directly support young people in their mental health and wellbeing and connect them with Jigsaw

- engage young people, schools and communities in the promotion of positive youth mental health within their schools and communities.

The service is a free and confidential youth primary care service that works in collaboration with other services and supports to provide safe and evidence based best practice approaches for early and brief mental health interventions and supports for young people in the Offaly area.

The service proposes to establish a ‘Read Your Mind’ project with the aim of promoting and enabling access to mental health information and guided self-help supports in book format that are age appropriate and evidence-based through the network of branches of Offaly County Libraries. Books, CDs and DVDs will be available in the context of adolescent and young adult mental health. Information on this service will be promoted widely through the Libraries, Schools, GP Surgeries and Youth and Community Services with the aid of visually attractive catalogues, promotional banners and bookmarks, flyers and posters.

The service is based at 1 Cormac Street, Tullamore. For further information, telephone: 057 93 52871. Web: www.jigsaw.ie

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Support Networks

To strengthen the ongoing work in suicide prevention, the HSE in the Midlands have established Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Support Networks in each of the four counties, Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath.

Members of the Networks, who have previously received training in suicide intervention skills, receive additional information, training, support and networking opportunities which enables them to be in a position to promote positive mental health and suicide awareness behaviours within their own individual communities.

Members of the networks are further supported to be ambassadors and a resource for ‘connectedness’ following on the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day. For further information on the Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Support Networks, contact Josephine Rigney, Suicide Prevention Resource Officer on 086-8157850.


A.S.I.S.T. (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) teaches the skills to be more alert to the signals and risk of suicide. It is a 2-day skills based workshop, provided by the HSE, which trains participants to recognise, respond and be in a position to provide immediate safety and information on further help to individuals whose lives may be at risk from suicide.

ASIST trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of a suicide and increase the support for a person who may be having thoughts of ending their life. It helps them seek a shared understanding of reasons for suicide and reasons for living. The workshop provides opportunities to learn what a person at risk may need from others in order to keep safe and get more help. It encourages honest, open and direct talk about suicide as part of preparing people to provide suicide first aid. Participants also consider how personal attitudes and experiences might affect their helping role with a person at risk. A suicide first aid model provides a framework for skills practice.


SafeTALK is a 3 hr training programme that prepares participants to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources. These specific skills are called ‘suicide alertness’ and are taught with the expectation that the person learning them will use them to help reduce suicide risk in their communities. The training is suitable for everyone who wants to help prevent suicide and is prepared to become suicide alert and perform an important helping role for persons who may be having thoughts of suicide.

To learn more about ASIST or SafeTALK training programmes and scheduling in the Midlands area please contact: Josephine Rigney on 086 8157850, or email: josephine.rigney@hse.ie

For further information on HSE Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Services for the Midlands please Tel: 086 8157850 or 1800 242 505.