Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lifting veil of secrecy on suicide and talking about mental health

A timely new initiative seeks to bust taboos and get us talking about our state of mind, writes Hilary A White

WE have all heard them uttered on the radio or in newspapers. We haven't even noticed them but they perpetuate a blinkered vision of mental health issues by Irish society.

When suicide is reported on, we get phrases such as "died suddenly and unexpectedly" or "gardai are not looking for anyone in connection with the death". We overhear talk about so-and-so who "has taken to the bed" (which translates as "is incapacitated with depression"). They are the euphemistic outfits continually placed on the mentally ill.

The issue of why Ireland is still unable to speak the language of mental health was the subject for a recent talk in Dublin's Button Factory venue. It, along with a concert that night, was the work of First Fortnight, an initiative that began last year and is now run in collaboration with Amnesty International. The event sought to highlight mental health prejudice and discrimination, which has dodged the "ism" radar until only relatively recently.

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