The Pieta House centre opened a door here in Castleisland on Monday. Based in the NEKD buildings at The Crageens, the facility will be open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday initially.
The centre has two counselling rooms. However, this is a temporary arrangement as Pieta House is currently looking for another property in the town. A move to the Presentation Convent building adjacent to the parish church was the subject of much speculation over the past 12 months but the extent of refurbishment needed there ruled out that option and now the management is looking for a suitable location in or close to the town to provide its greatly needed services in the county.
Pieta House provides a professional, one-to-one therapeutic service for people who have thoughts of suicide or have attempted to take their own lives, and people who are engaging in self-harm.
Anyone can make an appointment; a doctor's referral or a psychiatric report is not required and the service is completely free of charge.
Psychologist, founder and CEO, Joan Freeman opened the first branch in Lucan, Co. Dublin in January 2006 and, with Castleisland included, there are now eight Pieta House centres throughout Ireland.
"The people of Kerry have always been so committed to reducing suicide and it's fantastic that they will now have their own Pieta House," said Ms. Freeman.
"Many people from Kerry travelled to our Limerick centre but we're hopeful that the new Castleisland centre will make it easier for people to seek help. We make every attempt to remove all barriers and make the process as simple as possible - that is why our service is free of charge and you do not need a doctor's referral to come to Pieta House," she said.
Joan Freeman has visited Castleisland several times over the past couple of years.
On one such visit she accepted donations from the Holy Trinity Prayer Group and from Mons Dan O'Riordan on behalf of the parish.
On another visit last June she received a cheque for €2,590 from the Kerry IFA, which the organisation collected from a fundraising luncheon and fashion show at the River Island Hotel.
"We've seen from the success of events such as our Darkness into Light walk in Killarney and Nunday in Listowel that there is huge support for Pieta House in Kerry," said Ms Freeman.
"I hope that this continues for a long time to come as, for the new centre to thrive and grow, the people of Kerry need to take ownership of it and take responsibility for it by supporting us," she said.
For more information, log on to www.pieta.ie or call 01 601 0000.