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Editorial: Prevention of suicide can't be left to well-meaning amateurs

SUICIDE is a modern tragedy, one that has afflicted so many families and communities.

Along with the rise in the number of people taking their own lives has been a growing number of organisations catering for those afflicted by this modern-day plague. No doubt these are well-meaning people offering varying forms of therapy and counselling for people hurting as a result of the loss of a loved one.

It is disturbing, therefore, to learn from the HSE's National Office of Suicide Prevention that some of those offering such suicide-prevention services have not been vetted by the HSE and that some of what they offer may be unsafe and harmful.

Gerry Raleigh, director of the Office of Suicide Prevention, has strongly advised people to only attend organisations and agencies endorsed by his office. "Counselling is relatively unregulated and that is the problem," he said, adding: "People should go to trusted sources and have a healthy scepticism."

There are now between 300-400 organisations involved in the suicide-prevention sector. While we must recognise that many of them may play an important local role, suicide is such a serious issue that it cannot be left to well-meaning amateurs.

This is an area that may very well need to be streamlined in the interests of our most vulnerable in society.

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