Surge in calls from bereaved parents to charity

A charity that supports bereaved parents following the sudden death of a child is launching an appeal to hire a coordinator for the Munster region following a surge in demand for its services.

FirstLight said it needs to raise €25,000 to hire a regional bereavement co-ordinator to ensure parents and families who lose a child or young person suddenly and unexpectedly, receive the appropriate professional supports in their darkest hour.

“Every year in Cork, more than 300 parents and families are affected by the devastation of losing a child or young person suddenly. We have seen a 63% increase in the number of calls for support to FirstLight in the last year,” charity spokesperson Louise O’Sullivan said.

The charity, formerly known as the Irish Sudden Infant Death Association, originally supported parents bereaved by cot death.

Thanks to education and awareness, the number of cot deaths in Ireland has drastically decreased in recent years.

But Ms O’Sullivan said there are about 970 sudden child deaths in Ireland each year — about 370 children die in accidents, about 280 die suddenly in neonatal, and about 350 die suddenly each year from life limiting or terminal illness.

She said the charity recognised the parents of these children also need supports and services, which FirstLight provides through a national network of 79 counsellors and experts.

But after a surge in calls to its helpline, from 243 last year to 201 by May of this year alone, it’s now appealing to 100 businesses in the Cork region to donate €250 each to help create the new position . Broadcaster PJ Coogan, the charity’s ambassador, will launch its FirstLightCork100 campaign in the city next week.

“The increased demand for our services in the region has arisen thanks to increased awareness about us and our services,” Ms O’Sullivan said. “I have attended various healthcare conferences over the last year, and addressed those working at the coalface with bereaved parents — the public health nurses, GPs, paramedics, first responders, and even gardaí at their training college in Templemore.

“Our aim is to ensure that every family in Ireland that suffers the sudden death of a child knows that we exist.”

Parents in need of support following the sudden death of a child can contact FirstLight’s 24/7 helpline on 087-2423777 or visit www.firstlight.ie.


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