A Limerick-based support centre which has intervened 145 times in less than a year to help someone at risk of suicide has been told its current base will have to remain closed until January due to Covid-19.
The Haven Hub, which opened in November of 2019, is now looking for a new building to call home. Previously, it resided in the Social Services Building on Henry Street in Limerick city.
Leona O’Callaghan, the founder and chairperson of the Haven Hub, says all they need is four walls and a roof.
“We have nowhere to sit and talk to people who are in distress, nowhere to go over a safety plan. All we want is the four walls,” said Leona, who has had to aid people in the street or the local garda station in recent weeks.
Leona and her team are often placed in a position where they have to directly intervene with someone who intends to do themselves harm. With their current situation, there is nowhere they can take the person in order to keep them safe.
“We had one woman who came to us for help. She was past the point of trying to keep herself safe. I physically had to take the blade out of her hand. I told her, 'I will stand here with you'.
"One thing we are seeing is the same people coming back to us again because there isn’t the support there for them. We are seeing the same people back on the same bridges. I just don’t think its right that pubs, restaurants and shops have all been given the go-ahead to reopen, but vital services for people in need are still closed."
According to the Yearly Summary of Vital Statistics published by the Central Statistics Office, Limerick city registered the highest overall suicide rate at 22 deaths per 100,000 of population. Leona’s dedication in trying to help people who are struggling with mental health comes from her own battle.
“I was there, where they were. I was rescued from that river. I came back from that and thankfully I made a great recovery.”