WIDESPREAD concern over the incidence of suicide in Donegal has led to the county’s first ever Suicide Prevention Action Plan being put into place.
Meetings will take place across the county this month to gather information which will contribute to the plan which is being formulated by the HSE and a range of other organisations, community and voluntary groups.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Ms Anne Sheridan, Suicide Resource Officer for the HSE explained: “There has been growing concern in Donegal in recent years as regards suicide. There is huge interest among various groups and members of the public and we are formulating a response to that.”
Ms Sheridan said that although lots of good work is going on in the county, there is still much that can be done to promote mental health, prevent further suicide deaths and support those who are bereaved.
“The National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) is currently working to develop a national suicide prevention framework on behalf of the Department of Health. This will build on prevention measures and reduce the risk factors for suicidal behaviour. We are working alongside the NOSP to prepare our own local action plan specifically for Donegal. There are a number of actions that will be co-ordinated at a national level which will support what we decide to do locally,” said Ms Sheridan.
She continued: “We have a great team leading the project with members from all sectors of the county, including Bereavement Support groups, the Gardai, GPs, Coroners, Donegal County Council, and Donegal Youth Service, community, sports and arts organisations and various services within the HSE. This wide membership will ensure that the action plan will take account of the range of groups, organisations and services that can work together to prevent suicide. While we may not be able to include all suggestions in the plan we will definitely take account of the ideas we get. We will review all suggestions taking account of relevant evidence and the NOSP actions to develop our county action plan.”
Ms Sheridan concluded: “When you look at the official statistics for Donegal it is actually a county with one of the lowest rates of suicide nationally. However, we know that the statistics do not match the level of concern in the county and the devastation each individual suicide brings with it.”
A key part of the development of an action plan is providing an opportunity for as many people as possible to have their say regarding what should be included.
“We believe that suicide prevention is everyone’s business and we all need to be aware of what we can do individually and as part of our community to promote mental health and reduce suicide” said Maire O’Leary, HSE Social Inclusion Manager who is part of the team preparing the local action plan. The HSE are also hoping that members of the public will engage with them on this consultation by attending a number of workshops that will take place across Donegal this month.
Everyone is welcome to come along to a workshop to find out more about the plan and to share their thoughts and ideas on what we need to consider. The HSE are also distributing postcards to Health Centres, libraries, Family Resource Centres, council Public Service Centres and other locations which have two questions we would like people to respond to.
The same questions are also on an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/donegalsuicideprevention, so that people can also give us their feedback online if they prefer.
The HSE is asking for the people and communities of Donegal to take part in this important consultation process. “Your input could make the difference to your local community, family and friends,” concluded Ms Sheridan.
An open invitation to anyone with an interest on the topic is extended by the HSE. The first meeting will take place on Monday September 15 in Carndonagh Public Service Centre from 11am to 1pm, followed by: Letterkenny, Fanad and Rosguill – Thursday 18 September, 6.30 – 9pm – Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny; North West Donegal – Garradh Cholmcille, Falcarragh – Monday 22 September, 6.30 – 9pm; East Donegal – Tuesday 23 September, 2 – 4pm – Lifford Clonleigh Resource Centre; South Donegal – Monday 29 September, 6.45 – 9pm – Donegal Town Family Resource Centre.