A suicide prevention initiative aimed at students was unveiled at Trinity College Dublin yesterday.
Jointly hosted by the charity 3Ts (Turn The Tide of Suicide); Pleasetalk.org; and the Union of Students of Ireland, the Send Silence Packing campaign was launched in the grounds of the college.
The initiative includes a public display of 131 backpacks, representing the average number of college students who die by suicide in Ireland each year.
Send Silence Packing is designed to raise awareness about the impact of suicide, to connect students to mental-health supports, and to inspire action for suicide prevention.
“We have come a long way in the past few years but there is still a lot of stigma around mental health and some people are not as willing as they should be to discus their issues,” said Aoife ní Shúilleabháin, vice-president for welfare at USI.
“Many students are almost at crisis level before they look for help. We are hoping to change that.”
Ms Ní Shúileabháin said that lack of proper funding means it can take up to eight weeks for students with mental health difficulties to access therapy or get an appointment with a counsellor.
“Research shows that 71% of students regularly feel down. We desperately need funding for community-based mental health services. Part of that would be a 24-7 service,” she said.
“At the moment, the only option for many students is to go to an A&E department in a hospital, but they could be waiting eight or nine hours to see anyone.
“We need those who hope to be our next leaders to recognise the importance of investment in mental-health services and their fundamental importance to students in need.”
The initiative is the first activity of its kind, with further similar events planned for other colleges.
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