World Suicide Prevention Day – Reach in, reach out and be the light for someone who needs it

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, and the Health Service Executive (HSE) marked the celebration of  international World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday last, September 10.

The global theme for 2023 was ‘Creating Hope through Action’.

Minister Butler and the HSE had three key messages for this World Suicide Prevention Day: Reach In, Reach Out, and Be the Light. Three actions that can be carried out any day of the year, something that might just help someone suffering with depression or mental health issues.

·  Reach in to someone you know who might be having difficulties – check in with them and tell them you care about them.

·  Reach out if you are feeling low, sad or hopeless – sharing things with someone else will help. Talk about what is going on for you. There are supports online, over the phone, by text or face to face –

·  Finally, you can Be the Light by helping spread supportive messages and get involved in activities that promote positive mental health and wellbeing or suicide prevention in your community.

In Ireland, this is an important theme that is reflected in our national strategy to reduce suicide Connecting for Life. Suicide is a very complex issue, however we can always look out for others who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts and provide support. This helps to create a more caring society where those who need to can feel more comfortable in seeking help.

Minister Butler said: “In conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day 2023, we want to spread a message of hope to anyone impacted by suicide or suicidal thoughts. We can make a difference through small but meaningful actions to help those who are struggling.

“Even a single conversation can make a big difference. Every death by suicide is a tragedy, and I am thinking today of those families, friends, and communities bereaved by suicide. Preventing the tragedy of suicide remains a key priority and we will continue to support our colleagues in the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention and their community partners to ensure that the resources are available to continue their valuable work.

“So, on any given day,  I would encourage everyone to Reach In to those who may need help, Reach Out for help if you need to, and Be the Light in your community. By raising awareness, reducing the stigma and encouraging action we can help to reduce the instances of suicide in Ireland.”

John Meehan, Head of HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (HSE Operations Planning) said: “International World Suicide Prevention Day is an important time to acknowledge and remember lives that have been sadly lost to suicide in Ireland. For people who have been bereaved, and for others who are findings things tough, it is also a time to spotlight the services, supports and projects that the HSE work on with many different agencies, nationally and locally.

“In particular, the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention draws attention to the wide range of free and accessible training programmes, available in communities nationwide. For example, taking 90 minutes out to complete LivingWorks Start online, or taking half a day to attend a safeTALK programme in your community, could really help make a difference to someone in distress. These programmes can build your confidence, help you recognise people who might be at risk of suicide, ask them about suicide, and connect them with helpful supports and services. They can help you to ‘Be The Light’ for someone in your community this World Suicide Prevention Day.”

Kindness can be extended across 365 days of the year: reach in, reach out and be the light to someone who needs it.

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