Saturday 22 October 2016

Real shame of suicide is how little is being done to prevent it

Published 05/05/2016 | 02:30

A participant lighting candles at a Darkness into Light event last year
A participant lighting candles at a Darkness into Light event last year

As we approach another Darkness into Light walk in aid of the Pieta House charity this weekend, somewhere in the region of 500 families will have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one by suicide since last year's walk.

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Those who take part in the walk do so for various reasons. Some take part in memory of a loved one, be it family, friend or a work colleague. Some will walk to support families who are experiencing the raw grief that surrounds suicide.

The money raised by the walk will go towards helping people who have suicidal thoughts and also those who are self-harming but the enormous crowds that turn out at 4.15am on Saturday are also sending out a message that suicide is a massive problem in Ireland.

It's hard to believe that 23 years ago, suicide was deemed to be a crime in this country. It was also considered to be a mortal sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church and families also experienced 'shame' after the death of a loved one by suicide. It all seems so unreal now.

I'm no expert on suicide and would never claim to be. The only experience I have is losing our 19-year-old son to suicide.

Suicide was never a crime, neither was it a sin, at least not in the eyes of the God I know. Shame is a word that has no place either around the family or the victim of suicide.

But it is a shame that not enough is being done to address the issue of suicide.

We keep hearing about how we need to talk about it but I sometimes wonder are those in the corridors of power really listening.

John Higgins, Ballina, Co Mayo

Slavery comparison is way off

I don't believe Gerry Adams is a racist. Sectarian at one time? Maybe. An ill-advised man who should stop tweeting? Most certainly.

What I do take issue with is his comparison of the centuries of slavery endured by the black Africans brutally taken from their homelands and shipped to the Americas, where they and their descendants endured denial of freedom or human rights of any kind, separation of families, rapes, whippings and executions, until the whole immoral practice came to an end in that part of the world in 1865.

There may be some comparison with the plight of African Americans post their emancipation but any such comparisons are minuscule in parallel.

The civil rights campaign led by Martin Luther King was a peaceful campaign that won through despite the brutality, beatings and killings suffered by the demonstrators, and without resorting to violence or being hijacked by those who preferred an armed confrontation.

What a pity the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland was not allowed to follow in a similar manner. Maybe the same or more may have been achieved in less time and without 3,466 deaths?

Des Hughes, Dublin 13

Greatest sporting shock ever?

Surely Leicester City winning the Premier League at odds of 5,000-1 is the biggest shock in the history of sport.

I recently started reading 'I Believe in Miracles' about Nottingham Forest's 1978 title victory and subsequent double European Cup triumph.

Brian Cough's Forest were promoted the previous season but considering that Leicester were bottom of the Premier League just over a year ago and parted with their manager last summer...there's gotta be a film in this!

Jamie Vardy came late to the top division via lower league and non-league football. Nigel Pearson built a great squad and Claudio Ranieri brought the Midas touch to the fairy-tale, along with an amazing team spirit.

The Foxes have three exceptional players in Vardy, Mahrez and Kante, with a back-up cast of solid journeyman pros or good professionals.

I'm sure most football fans around the world had never heard of the Foxes - but they have now!

I have followed football for over 40 years and for my sins will support Leeds United until I die. Never before have I witnessed a season where the closed-shop grouping of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, or the supporting cast of Liverpool and Spurs, were totally usurped by maiden champions Leicester City.

In fairness to Spurs, they have a young team and a great coach in Pochettino who surely will challenge again next season.

Who knows what will happen Leicester. I can't see them going on to lift consecutive European Cups like Clough's Forest but then again, he once remarked: "I wouldn't say I'm the best football manager there is, but I'm definitely in the top one."

Considering they were bottom of the league last April, sacked their manager last June and not even Gary Lineker believed they could win the league, you have to hand it to Leicester City for pulling off the greatest shock in the history of sport. Real 'Roy of the Rovers' stuff.

Well done to the Foxes. To everyone else - dream big.

Mike Geraghty, Newcastle, Galway

Rural areas vital to recovery

Richard Curran, in writing about a new development plan for rural Ireland (Farming Independent, May 3), states that regeneration of the major regional towns holds the key to any future success.

Developing farming alone will not be nearly enough, as their numbers continue to decline year on year, as incomes and profit margins continue to become a real challenge for the industry. Rural economies are becoming more and more dependent on vibrant towns and cities in the provinces as people commute to work in ever greater numbers.

The development of the larger towns such as Ennis, Tuam, Longford, Castlebar, Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon and Donegal town, must be prioritised by the introduction of broadband, decent schools, the establishment of more and more foreign multinationals, the expansion of health services, opening up of the government departments closed in recent years, and establishing once again bank branches and garda stations in rural Ireland. This would be an enormous help in providing much needed jobs and a huge boost to the national economy.

By the year 2030, it is estimated that approximately 60pc of the population will reside within 25 miles of the east coast. That concentration of people will bring economic prosperity to the entire eastern region, as bigger populations get a greater share of the national cake. It can also cause many social problems such as lack of adequate health and housing services, etc, in the years ahead.

The social argument should not be about rural or urban bashing, but rather the creation of policies that facilitate bringing job opportunities and prosperity to our cities, towns, and villages in a nationwide balanced recovery.

Tom Towey, Cloonacool, Co Sligo

Irish Independent

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