Let’s talk about suicide to really change lives

Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Ulster University, Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and Kate Miller, Director of Coleraine Samaritans.
Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Ulster University, Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and Kate Miller, Director of Coleraine Samaritans.

One hundred and sixty people a week contacted Coleraine Samaritans from April to June this year, according to latest figures.

Branch director Kate Miller reported that the Lodge Road branch dealt with a total of 1,914 calls over the quarterly period.

The local statistics were revealed as Samaritans launched its Impact Report at Stormont before World Suicide Prevention Day last week.

The charity is calling for more openness on the subject of suicide in order to prevent people taking their own lives.

Kate Miller said: “People who are struggling can feel isolated and alone. They often want to talk about their suicidal feelings but don’t know how to, or fear they will be judged. Talking through your feelings with someone else can make all the difference”.

“More than 6,000 people die by suicide every year in the UK alone. If you are less well off, and male, you are at greater risk of suicide. When you bottle things up you can start to feel trapped. Talking things through can help you find a way forward.

It’s not always about fixing a problem – sometimes it’s simply about sharing it. Samaritans’ volunteers will always listen and never judge.”

“Samaritans volunteers are there round the clock, every day of the year for people struggling to cope. Our busiest hours tend to be from 6pm in the evening to 2am in the morning, when other support, companionship and services may not be available”.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton reiterated his commitment to tackling the high suicide rate in Northern Ireland. “Awareness of the early warning signs of mental health difficulties, early help seeking, and effective treatment are key to preventing more serious mental illness, considering that one in five adults in Northern Ireland will have a mental health condition at any one time, and around half of all women and one quarter of men will experience depression at some point in their lives”.

“Early intervention for positive mental health and wider measures to improve the quality of life are undoubtedly part of the long-term answer to suicide prevention.”

Reports last week said that calls to the Samaritans in Northern Ireland will soon be free thanks to new plans to review the current helpline.