‘The most important thing is to reach out’

CONSOLE launched its Snowdrop Campaign amid continuing fallout over comments made by the Master of the High Court regarding banks allegedly driving debtors to suicide.

The suicide bereavement support group has launched a series of four key rings, each bearing inspirational messages aimed at helping people in difficulty to see that there are options other than taking their own life.

The launch was attended by presidential hopefuls Sean Gallagher, of TV programme Dragon’s Den, and senator David Norris, among others.

In addition to the key rings, a single by The Original Rudeboys will be launched to help raise funds for the Campaign.

Mr Gallagher, who worked as a youth worker before embarking on his business career, said he knew from his own experiences of growing up in rural Ireland that very few older men supported each other outside of “shoulder to shoulder at the bar counter”.

He said today fewer people congregate in local pubs and fewer people meet at Mass, leading to growing isolation. He had also seen the impact of the recession on people within the business community.

“I have seen many on the verge and many of them have crossed the verge. The most important thing is to reach out,” he said.

Mr Norris said it was important to speak out about suicide to “raise the bar of stigma and shame that has traditionally attached itself to suicide”.

On Wednesday the Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan, strongly criticised banks and financial institutions for aggressively pursuing people through the courts over their debt, which, he said, in some cases led to suicide.

Mr Norris agreed with Mr Honohan in speaking out about the issue: “We must end the silence.”

Another speaker at the event was Console founder, Paul Kelly, who spoke about the death by suicide of his younger sister in 2002. Mr Norris said Mr Kelly had not failed his sister, but had instead honoured her through his work.

Alan Jagoe, the 28-year-old president of Macra na Feirme, said younger men in rural areas were particularly vulnerable and that social interaction was the key.

“There should not be one person on this island of Ireland that feels the need to take their own life,” he said, adding that banks should have a moral obligation not to force people into a situation where they could contemplate such a course of action.

“There are options,” he said. “There are alternatives.”

Console: 1800 201890 1life — 1800 247100


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