Depression and suicide should not be automatically linked, says Aware, that educates and empowers people to look after their mental health.
Aware clinical director Dr Claire Hayes said depression and bipolar disorder were really challenging and could at times be quite harrowing conditions to deal with.
“Our concern is that often society’s reaction to and focus on suicide can perpetuate the idea that it is in some way a valid option or an inevitable outcome,” said Dr Hayes.
“Just because people might think they are suicidal does not mean that they have to do it. There are always options.”
Dr Hayes was speaking at at an event in Dublin to mark the start of Aware’s Depression Awareness Week — Stand Up for Surviving.
It wants to highlight that mental health issues do not mean an automatic life sentence.
Dr Hayes said just because people think they are better off dead does not mean that they are suicidal.
“Any of us can have thoughts like that at any particular time. They are horrible, frightening thoughts but they are only thoughts.”
Dr Hayes said Aware was able to help people cope with however they were feeling and see what they could do to improve the quality of their lives. She believed everyone could work together to encourage people to get help for mental health issues at an earlier stage of their lives.
“In that way, we can help to alleviate some of the pain and suffering going on across the country.”
While she did not think there was too much in the media about people taking their own lives she felt there was a sense sometimes that the more something was talked about, the more it became an option.
She had spoken with parents of 11 and 12-year-olds with mental health issues and they were aware that suicide was an option.
“I would not in any way dictate that people talk about suicide in one way or another but there is the other side of the story — people do get help and do survive.
“There is a huge number of people alive in this country because of Aware’s support and services offered by other organisations.”
Aware chief executive Dominic Layden said Aware received 11,000 calls to its support line and 2,300 emails to its support mail service last year. “We regularly hear from people whose lives have changed or indeed saved, thanks to the support and insight they have gained from Aware,” said Mr Layden.
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