The head of a national suicide charity has urged the Government to respond to the suicide crisis in the same way it prioritised road safety which led to a reduction in road deaths.
Console founder Paul Kelly made the call as hundreds of people bereaved by suicide, remembered and honoured their loved ones at Console’s Christmas Celebration of Light in the Sacred Heart Church on Cork’s Western Rd yesterday.
“We are losing so many people to suicide,” he said.
“In 2011, CSO figures showed that 554 people died by suicide in Ireland.
“And while the provisional figures we have for 2012 suggest over 500 people died by suicide, we would say that the actual figure is over 600. A lot of suicide deaths are not recorded as such in the coroner’s court.
“In fact, about 50% of those who attend Console for counselling have not had a verdict of suicide recorded.
“We have more people now dying by suicide than are dying on our roads.
“Tackling the suicide crisis has to be a priority for government. They must improve access to mental health services, and properly fund the National Office for Suicide Prevention.”
Mr Kelly — who founded Console after his sister, Sharon, took her own life aged 21 — also said agencies involved in suicide prevention need improved, more accurate and timely statistics to devise better response strategies.
They said the service helps them get through the difficult Christmas period.
The service featured song, music, poetry and reflection, and an emotional ceremony where candles were lit in memory of each person lost to suicide.
Console held six such celebrations nationwide the previous week attended by some 5,000 people.
“The Christmas Celebration of Light provides a gentle and understanding environment for families and friends to remember their loved ones and celebrate their lives,” Mr Kelly said.
“The loss of a loved one is always devastating, but when that loss is through suicide it can be so much harder for the families and friends left behind.
“This special service is one of the most important events in the Console calendar as it gives families and friends the opportunity to come together in solidarity to honour the lives of their loved ones.”
The charity has a full-time centre in Cork at Console House, 1A Perrott Avenue, College Road, tel 021-427 4218 and is also in Dublin, Wexford, Limerick, Galway, Mayo and Kildare.
* www.console.ie or 24-hour helpline on tel: 1800 201 890
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