Tuesday 17 September 2019

Charleville to remember the lives of those lost to suicide

Project co-founder says still not enough being done to tackle 'epidemic' of suicides

Bill Browne

The co-founder of the Charleville Suicide Awareness Project, Margaret O'Callaghan, has said she believed not enough was being done to address what she described as the "epidemic' of suicides across the country.  Her comments have come in the same week that figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed that 78 people, including two children aged between five and 14, and 17 people over the age of 65, took their own lives during the first three months of this year. 

Mrs O'Callaghan, who helped set up the project in 2009 after tragically losing her son and brother to suicide more than two decades ago, was speaking ahead of an annual remembrance event taking place in Charleville to celebrate the memory of all those who have died by suicide. 

"Following the deaths of my son and brother I felt that not enough was being done to address the issue of suicide, despite the fact that there is hardly a family in Ireland that has not been touched by it in some way or another," said Mrs O'Callaghan.  She said the latest figures from the CSO showed that it was an issue that was not just confined to a particular age group and that still not enough was being done to tackle the problem. "The fact that almost 80 people took their own lives in Ireland over a three-month period shows that, despite the good work being done by many awareness groups, still not enough is being done at Governtment level to tackle the epidemic of suicides," said Mrs O'Callaghan.

"This is particularly true in rural areas and peripheral towns and villages where there is a severe lack of supports for people who so desperately need help," she added. Mrs O'Callaghan said that the Charleville Project has been working to address this imbalance, recently engaging the services of a specialist councillor funded through its various fundraising initiatives.  "Through next Tuesday's event we hope to get this message across to powers that be that not enough is being done to tackle this problem and that more resources need to be allocated to suicide prevention. It can not just be left to voluntary groups in towns and villages to develop the vital supports needed address this issue," she said.  The event will commence with a walk in the Town Park passing the Tree of Hope and the park bench erected by the project. The bench is one 15 that have been installed by the Project at public places across north Cork inscribed with the contact numbers for the Samaritans and Pieta House.  Participants will then make their way to the town plaza where 150 white balloons and five doves will be released in memory of those who have lost their lives to suicide.

Poems will also be read and one young person will speak about the impact that suicide has had on their life. 

"It is important that people realise this is not meant to be a sad occasion, rather a celebration of the lives of loved ones lost to suicide. We also want to raise awareness of the Charleville Project and let people know that there are people out there willing to offer help and support at their time of most need. All they have to do is ask and we will be there for them," said Mrs O'Callaghan.