A leading suicide prevention charity is challenging people to become better listeners.
Every week, nine people in Ireland kill themselves. Good listening is hard, but the Samaritans believe it is essential in bringing down the number of suicides.
The Samaritans respond to one call for help per minute, with Cork Samaritans receiving 67,105 of those calls last year.
Director of the Cork branch, Tom Ryan, said listening was what the Samaritans did, but sometimes it could be challenging.
“But you don’t have to be a Samaritan to get better at listening to family, friends, and colleagues,” he said.
“We’re a culture of people who love to give advice, love to give opinions, and, quite frankly, love the sound of our own voices.”
Mr Ryan said they were asking people to “shush” and to listen better. This advice is part of their annual month-long awareness-raising campaign.
“Sixty years of Samaritans’ expertise has taught us that just listening is the greatest gift that you can give somebody.”
Samaritans executive director, Catherine Brogan, said people were given a voice, and the courage to say what was really on their minds, when someone listened to them.
“Saying your problems out loud is therapeutic in itself and being listened to has the power to make you feel understood, and that you matter,” she said.
Ms Brogan said family, work, relationships, and even mental-health issues were made worse when people felt they were not heard. That was why they were urging people to shush and listen.
“Most conversations in Ireland, today, are just two people waiting to speak, not two people really listening. It’s vitally important for our children’s and young people’s wellbeing that they are listened to, and learn the value of listening, but it applies to every age, too,” said Ms Brogan.
“We listen all the time, and, as Samaritans, we know how powerful that can be. So, I’m urging everyone to take up Samaritans’ challenge throughout our Talk To Us campaign this July, and become a better listener by putting into practice our listening tips.
“Go to our website, read them and share them — challenge each other to use them. We can all be braver and do more to give each other the space to talk. And, by becoming better listeners, together we will save lives.”
Samaritans’ listening tips, and information on spotting signs that somebody is struggling, can be found at www.samaritans.org.
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