Almost 100 people have attended the annual ‘Connecting for Life’ conference on suicide prevention in Letterkenny.

In his opening address to the conference Leas Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Martin Harley described the issue of suicide in our communities as ‘deeply sensitive and devastating’ saying “in the world we live in today with people facing many different types of difficult situations and challenges it is hard to think of anyone who has not been directly affected by suicide or mental health issues.

“Now, more so than ever, we must stress the importance and value of community, community spirit, and cooperation to combat these issues.

"We as a Local Authority have an onus to help people with mental health issues and focus on providing support to people who are in crisis, whether it be housing, job creation or promoting social inclusion.

"Our aim here today is to bring people together from different sectors, services and communities in order to strengthen our collective ability to be a major force for change in suicide prevention in Donegal.”

The conference was delivered as part of the Connecting for Life Donegal action plan which is a five year plan (2015 -2020) for suicide prevention that involves a broad range of organisations and individuals from the statutory, non-statutory, the community and voluntary sector, and also the general public.

This local plan forms part of the national Connecting for Life strategy which sets a minimum target of a 10% reduction in the suicide rate in Ireland by 2020. Representatives from various sectors and organisations attended including An Garda Síochána, Donegal Travellers Project, health, private, community and voluntary organisations.

The purpose of the conference was to share good practices and build connections in the area of suicide prevention with contributions from Dr Colette Corry, National Suicide Research Foundation on the Impact of suicide on families; Dr Cliff Haley, Executive Clinical Director, Mental Health Services; Cllr Ian McGarvey on his personal experience of living with a death by suicide in a family; Barry Mc Gale, Suicide Prevention Consultant on the impact suicide has on a workplace; Ruth Garvey Williams from Insight Inishowen on the impact of suicide on a community; Anne Sheridan, HSE on new Suicide Bereavement Awareness training; and Marie Burke, Pieta House and Mícháel Ó’Ruaric, HSE on support services for suicide bereaved in Donegal.

The conference was chaired by Liam Ward, Director of Community, Development and Planning Services in Donegal County Council.

The conference was followed by the official opening of the Lived Lives Lost exhibition, an exhibition of stories of young lives lost to suicide in Ireland, at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny.

Photo shows group pictured the conference - Leas Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Martin Harley, Anne Sheridan, Mental Health Services HSE, Peter Walker Health Promotion HSE, Mairead Cranley Social Inclusion Unit, Donegal County Council

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