Let's talk about suicide to change lives say Samaritans

Samaritans has launched its first Impact Report for Northern Ireland at Stormont today, with a call for more openness on the subject of suicide, in order to prevent people taking their own lives.

The launch took place at the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Parliament Buildings, and was timed to coincide with the build up to World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2015. The event itself documented the work of the charity over the last 12 months; it welcomed Ministers, key agencies and speakers, including Professor Siobhan O’Neill from Ulster University.

Eighteen people a day die by suicide in the UK and Ireland but, according to a Samaritans survey, 1 in 6 people (17.3%) see it as a taboo subject.*

Catherine Brogan, Samaritans Executive Director for Ireland 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”.

The survey also shows that only 1 in 4 of people (29%) is happy to approach someone who looks upset, despite the majority of us (64%) claiming to be good listeners.

Professor Siobhan O’Neill from Ulster University, a leading figure in research programmes which focus on trauma and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland, said: “We all need to allow ourselves and others permission to talk when we’re feeling sad or overwhelmed.  That’s why the Samaritans’ message is so important. When someone knows that they are not alone, and that people are there to listen, it can make all the difference. It’s something to hold onto in the most difficult of times.”

Launching the inaugural Samaritans Impact Report for Northern Ireland, Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: “Awareness of the early warning signs of mental health difficulties, seeking help early, 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.

This is particularly important when you consider that untreated depression is one of the major risk factors for suicide.

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.”

– ENDS –

Samaritans’ first Impact Report for Northern Ireland was launched on Tuesday 8 September, at  Long Gallery at Stormont from 10.30 to 12.30 (registration and refreshments from 10.15)

Speakers: Simon Hamilton MLA, Minister DHSSPS, Ruth Sutherland Samaritans CEO, Prof Siobhan O’Neill and Robert McBride, Regional Director.

For more information and interviews on Samaritans’ Northern Ireland Impact Report, to receive a link to the report or to arrange an interview, please contact Anita Cooley, RedRevolution on 07540929885, or email anita@red-revolution.co.uk.

Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. It provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they are feeling and whatever life has done to them.  You can contact Samaritans at any time from any phone for FREE on 116 123, even from a mobile without any credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org/branches to find details of your local branch.
  • *Samaritans’ Talk To Us survey was carried out between 27 May & 2 June 2015. A nationally representative sample of 1600 adults was surveyed. A summary is available at www.samaritans.org