Teenage leaders will conduct a major survey on youth suicide in Cork during a showcase event in the city tomorrow as part of a wider campaign to expand specialist suicide support training to over 16s.
The members of Cork City Comhairle na nÓg, one of 31 youth councils around the country, will survey teenagers aged 13 to 18 who are being encouraged to attend their ‘Turning Tides’ summer showcase event in Cork’s City Hall on Saturday.
The event, which has been designed by and for teenagers, will highlight the campaigning and advocacy work they have done over the last two years on suicide supports, which has seen them engage with groups including the HSE, Pieta House, the Samaritans and the Breaking the Silence group in Cobh.
They hope the survey will provide up-to-date data on the scale of youth suicide, how people have responded to those in crisis, the difficulties they have faced, the level of awareness around available supports and also identify any barriers that may prevent or discourage people from accessing those supports.
A spokesperson for the Comhairle said while young people can and do make a difference in the prevention of suicide, the SafeTalk programme which trains people to identify those with suicidal thoughts and connect them to supports, is only available to those aged 18 and over.
Members of the Comhairle would like to see SafeTalk expanded to over 16s because younger teenagers have told their workshops that they too have encountered a pal in crisis. Martin Ryan, the HSE’s suicide prevention officer in Cork, said SafeTalk does carry a certain burden with it, and in some cases, may not even be suitable for some adults.
“SafeTalk is just one training programme. Our focus when it comes to teenagers is about supporting resilience, and signposting the other supports that are there,” he said.
However, the Comhairle said they will present their findings to the National Office for Suicide Prevention in the hope of improving the supports geared towards teens.
Tomorrow’s showcase arose out of the Comhairle’s 2016 AGM where young people voted overwhelmingly about the need to talk openly about suicide prevention and support.
Since then, the group has built a website, www.turningtides.ie, produced a video to encourage people to access support services, and seen their call for SafeTalk to be made available to over 16s endorsed by Cork City Council.
The Turning Tides showcase takes place at Millennium Hall tomorrow from 2pm to 3pm.