We all know to dial 999 or 112 in an emergency. But who would you ring if you, a loved one or a friend were suicidal?
A new awareness campaign aims to make helpline numbers for those in danger of suicide every bit as familiar and accessible as 999. A launch event took place in Donegal Town on Sunday to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.
This awareness campaign is the latest initiative of Donegal Town Community Against Suicide. As the name suggests, the organisation has its roots in Cycle Against Suicide. The aim is to keep the Cycle Against Suicide message alive long after the cycle has been and gone. Donegal Town and surrounding areas is the first community in the country to pilot this project. The response to date has been very positive.
Donegal Town Community Against Suicide’s awareness campaign launch was attended by representatives from local schools, clubs and organisations.
Anne McGowan explained how the idea for the campaign came about: “As a result of a number of local and national tragedies there was a sharing on social media of numbers that would put people in contact with American organisations. For someone who is not in good form, to be sitting there ringing an American number they are getting on social media wouldn’t be good for them.
“We came up with wallet cards, posters and windscreen stickers with all the Irish helpline numbers on them. We hope too that we will get consent from pubs and nightclubs to put stickers with this information on the back of bathroom doors so it is there for someone who is feeling low.”
The numbers on the card and stickers are for Aware and Pieta House, both of which answer calls 24 hours a day; Walk In My Shoes, a support organisation for 18 to 25 year olds which although not manned 24/7, will respond to messages that can be left at any time; and the Samaritans which can be contacted by phone or text.
Ms McGowan said: “These numbers are also for people who are worried about a loved one or friend.”
She is encouraging as many people as possible to carry the card in their wallet, thus increasing the chances of having the numbers to hand if needed.
As part of this initiative, banners with the same numbers had already been presented to Four Masters GAA Club and St Naul’s GAA Club. Donegal Bay Rowing Club and the Abbey Vocational School received banners at the launch night.
Ms McGowan thanked DLD for the funding towards the cost of printing the banners, cards and stickers. She also acknowledged the support of Richard Cave at Cavern Design and Fintan Gallagher at Coastal Signs.
Ms McGowan thanked local media for ongoing support in spreading the message of Cycle Against Suicide and Community Against Suicide.
A number of taxi drivers who were present on the Diamond in Donegal Town took wallet cards and windscreen stickers.
Any other taxi drivers - or indeed anyone else who would like to play their part in the campaign – is welcome to get in touch. The email address is [email protected].
Meanwhile, the series of walks organised by Donegal Town Community Against Suicide continues. Wellness Walks take place on the last Friday of each month at the Bank Walk, Donegal Town at 1.00pm. The Mountcharles Walk And Chat takes place on the second Wednesday in the month.
More information can be found on the Facebook page Donegal Town Community Against Suicide.
Sunday also saw many businesses in Donegal Town join the Light Up Orange campaign. This too was part of World Suicide Prevention Day. It helped raise awareness while remembering those who died by suicide in our own communities and around the world.
And remember: "It's OK not to feel OK and it's absolutely OK to ask for help."
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.