independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Campaigner warns of danger of copycat tragedies

A LEADING suicide prevention campaigner has warned about the risk of copycat suicides from publicity in the wake of the deaths of Shannon and Erin Gallagher.



Dan Neville appealed for support for young people who may be in deep crisis following the double tragedy.

The Fine Gael TD and president of the Irish Association of Suicidology also warned the media has a responsibility to prevent what he described as "the contagion effect" - where a loved one of the deceased may carry out a similar act.

"A young person who sees photographs displayed or reports sensationalising the suicide, that young person might be in deep crisis following the death or might be dealing with issues that are completely separate," Mr Neville said.

"But they may see these reports and think, 'Could I be saved from this terrible place?' There is an element of influence there."

Mr Neville said not all young people who die by suicide suffer from a psychological illness.

"There are often other reasons that youngsters can find themselves in deep despair," he added.

"They are at a stage in their lives that develops so quickly and they don't know how to handle their feelings."

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ( ISPCC), said volunteers are on hand to support young people or their parents who need help.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with the Gallagher family and the friends of Erin and Shannon at this incredibly difficult time," it said.

"The ISPCC are urging young people to talk to their parents or someone they trust if they need support."

Anyone in need of support is urged to contact Childline on 1800 666 666 or text Talk to 50101, Samaritans on 1890 200 091, or Console suicide prevention on 1800 201 890.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said his department's priority of the department is to provide support and assistance to the students and staff at the girls' school, Finn Valley College in Co Donegal, at this very difficult time.

Psychologists are supporting staff and are working with colleagues from the National Office of Suicide Prevention and the HSE Clinical Psychology and Child & Adolescent Mental Health services.

The Health Service Executive advised parents to be aware of their children's reactions following traumatic events.

A local helpline for parents from Co Donegal only who have concerns about their children can be contacted in confidence at 1850 400 911.

Elsewhere teenagers can get support on www.spunout.ie, www.letsomeoneknow.ie, www.reachout.ie, www.RD4U.org.uk and www.barnardos.ie/teenhelp.

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