Updated: 19/10/17 : 05:57:11
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'Connecting for Life Sligo and Leitrim' Launched

This week Jim Daly T.D. Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People launched Connecting for Life Sligo and Leitrim Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2017 -2020 in the Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon.

This local action plan is based on the same vision, goals, objectives and measurable outcomes as outlined in Connecting for Life,Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide 2015 – 2020.  Connecting for Life sets out a vision where fewer lives are lost through suicide, and where communities and individuals are empowered to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Minister Daly Commented “This Sligo and Leitrim suicide prevention plan sets out a roadmap to address suicide and self-harm. It is important that we all continue to work together, at all levels, to identify people at risk and to ensure that appropriate services are in place to provide the help and support needed. If we do this, I believe that we will achieve our goal of fewer lives lost to suicide.”

Breifne Earley, speaking from personal experience said “There isn't a single family or community in the counties of Sligo or Leitrim who haven't been touched, in some way by suicide or mental health issues over the years. The implementation of this new strategic plan for the counties of Sligo and Leitrim will create an environment to help fight this silent killer, allow people who are suffering in secret to seek help and attempt to reduce the number of our loved ones we lose each and every year.”

Members of local Mental Health Services (L-R) Mark O'Callaghan (Principal Psychologist Manager), Thomas Mc Bride (Acting Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention / Mental Health Promotion), Jim Daly T.D. (Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People), Teresa Dykes (Acting Head of Service for Mental Health, CHO 1), Denis O'Brien (Assistant Director of Nursing), Martin Jones (Team Co-ordinator, Sligo Adult Community Mental Health), Tomas Murphy (Chair of Sligo and Leitrim Suicide Prevention Steering Group, Area Director of Nursing)  at the Launch of Connecting for Life Sligo and Leitrim, in The Bush Hotel, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Photo: James Connolly

Key Milestones

Tomas Murphy, Area Director of Mental Health Nursing Sligo/Leitrim and Chair of the Sligo Leitrim Suicide Prevention Steering Group said “The development of an interagency steering group was instrumental in the delivery of this project. I am very grateful for the time and commitment that so many people gave in the delivery of our suicide reduction plan for the counties of Sligo and Leitrim. From the onset, many stakeholders including the Garda, VEC, St Angela’s College, GAA, HSE and numerous voluntary organisations sat at the table in the planning and delivery of key milestones.  

To ensure that the county plans met the needs of all communities, a consultation process ensued, whereby opinions and ideas were gathered through a variety of methods including public meetings, focus groups, facilitated workshops and postcard and online survey submissions. The broad selection of mechanisms employed to engage with the general public and specific target groups allowed the steering group to capture the thoughts and feelings of a wide cross-section of our community. These ideas are reflected within many specific actions and plans which are laid out within our Connecting For Life Plan and aim to address suicide reduction within our counties”.

There have been significant developments in Sligo and Leitrim in the area of suicide prevention over the past two years. Since the beginning of 2016, a range of suicide prevention training programmes were delivered resulting in 504 people receiving training in safeTALK (suicide alertness training), 333 people trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and 106 people training in Understanding Self-Harm.  Further staff have been trained locally to increase capacity to deliver these courses to those who need them.

Jim Daly T.D. (Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People) with Members of Sligo and Leitrim Suicide Prevention Steering and Working Groups at the Launch of Connecting for Life Sligo and Leitrim, in The Bush Hotel, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Photo: James Connolly

'Empowering communities'

Other recent developments include the employment of a Clinical Nurse Specialist, specifically for Self Harm presentations in the Emergency Department of Sligo University Hospital.  The Mental Health Service has also developed a Psychiatric Liaison Team providing consultation to the ED and wider Hospital setting 7 days a week from the hours of 8am-8pm. 

Within the wider community settings, Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health service have developed 7 day services which are aligned to Primary Care Centre of Manorhamilton, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballymote and Sligo Town.

John Meehan, Assistant National Director, Head of National Office for Suicide Prevention, HSE Mental Health Division said “Local implementation, that includes empowering communities, is a core component of the Connecting for Life strategy. We need to connect with ourselves, our families, our communities and the services on offer. Connecting for Life Sligo and Leitrim has been led by the HSE but developed in partnership with key local statutory and non-statutory groups. The result is a new plan, which sets out the steps many different organisations, including the HSE, will take to realise the vision of a region where fewer lives are lost through suicide.”

The Minister concluded by thanking all those involved, “The plan launched today is the result of the hard work of a huge number of individuals, community groups, statutory and non-government agencies, working together to promote positive mental health. I congratulate all involved in the creation of this plan.”

For more information on Connecting for Life Sligo and Leitrim and to access the full document, go to www.connectingforlifesligoleitrim.ie

If you, or someone you know needs support, you can find information on www.yourmentalhealth.ie or Freecall Samaritans on 116 123 for a listening ear.