The Samaritans has launched a new awareness campaign to target those most in need of emotional support across County Donegal.
The charity gives people a safe place to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and wants to ensure residents and holidaymakers in the county that its services are available to everyone.
Joe McHugh, Fine Gael TD for Donegal, Government Chief Whip and Minister for the Irish Language, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Donegal County GAA star Colm McFadden, and Anne Sheridan, HSE Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention, Donegal, were among those who attended the launch in Gortahork.
Samaritans Regional Director for Ireland, Cindy O’Shea, said it is imperative to get the message across that help is available to those who need it most, no matter where they live.
“So many people living in parts of rural Ireland feel lonely, isolated or that things are too much. We don’t want people to suffer alone. Samaritans wants to reach out to rural communities and those who need support to show that we are here for them,” she said.
There were 20 deaths by suicide recorded in County Donegal in 2016, including 13 men and 7 women.
Provisional figures from the Central Statistics Office show 12 people died by suicide in the county last year, with investigations continuing into other sudden deaths in the area.
While Samaritans welcomes the recent reduction, Ms O’Shea warns society and mental health organisations cannot be complacent.
She said: “Any reduction in suicide rates are always welcome, but even 12 is 12 too many. When a person dies by suicide it devastates families and entire communities.
“Samaritans volunteers want to help anyone who picks up the phone, texts, emails or visits a branch. Volunteers in our Derry and Sligo branches also provide emotional support across Donegal and work closely with organisations in the county, including the GAA.
“You don’t have to feel suicidal to contact us. A huge number of our calls are from people who are lonely, depressed, or anxious about a relationship, job or money.”
Minister McHugh helped relaunch the Samaritans 24-hour helpline and said: “It is a privilege to support Samaritans and the work its volunteers do across Ireland, in particular in Donegal.
“It is so important for people who feel they are suffering alone to know that they can pick up the phone for emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is thanks to organisations like Samaritans that we can ensure those most in need are given the space and support to talk through their problems and realise they have a future.”
Colm McFadden, a former Donegal GAA All Star who still plays for the county and St Michael’s GAA in Dunfanaghy, said: “I recognise that playing football for as long as I have is seen as a tough man’s game, but I also know that tough men can need support at different times in their lives and that’s why I am delighted to support the work of Samaritans in my county.”
Donegal Ladies and Termon GAA player Geraldine McLaughlin said: “I know that many people, particularly women, find that life can also be very hard at certain times. It’s great that Samaritans are there to listen to anyone in need of emotional support and that’s why I am pleased to support this worthwhile campaign.”
Anne Sheridan, HSE Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention, Donegal, said The Samaritans provide an invaluable service in being available at the end of a phone call any time of the day or night to support anyone who is in distress or worried about someone.
“This is very important especially in a rural county like Donegal where people can sometimes feel alone and isolated in their worry. A range of HSE mental health services are available in the county and over 600 people in the county are trained in suicide prevention each year.”
· Samaritans is urging anyone in Donegal who needs emotional support to call its freephone 24-hour helpline on 116 123. This number will not show up on your phone bill. You can also text 087 260 9090 (standard text rates apply) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Anyone living in the north of the county can visit the Samaritans branch in Derry for face to face support, while anyone in the south of the county can visit the Samaritans branch in Sligo. For more information visit www.samaritans.org
· To contact Samaritans from Northern Ireland call freephone 116 123, or email email@example.com.
· Last year 1,800 volunteers in the Republic of Ireland answered 625,000 calls from people in need and replied to 25,000 text messages, with 700 volunteers in Northern Ireland who answered 180,000 calls and 45,000 texts. For information on volunteering visit www.samaritans.ie/volunteering.Tags: