By Kieran O’Mahony
A WEST CORK charity that provides free counselling for the prevention of suicide and self-harm in West Cork has said it is regrettable that Cork does not have a suicide prevention officer.
Mick Kearns of Lisheens House was responding to a motion raised by Cllr June Murphy at a meeting of Cork County Council this week, where she called on the Council to provide a suicide prevention officer for the county.
‘We hope with the increased awareness of the issue of suicide and the work being carried out by ourselves and other organisations that the need to fill such a post will become apparent and very welcomed by everyone who works in the field of suicide prevention,’ said Mick Kearns.
‘The reason we started up this charity is that we saw the need for a non-formal counselling service in West Cork due to its geographical spread, and the fact that some parts of the regions are almost two hours from Cork City.’
Cllr June Murphy said there were 67% more suicides in Co Cork than in Tipperary and yet Tipperary County Council is to appoint a suicide prevention officer for the county.
‘In 2013 there were 42 residents of Cork County who died as a result of suicide and in the same year 20 people were killed on the roads of Cork city and county combined. Cork County Council has a Road Safety Officer. Surely something that has killed 42 of our county people in the same timespan is deserving of at least a similar response?’ urged Cllr Murphy.
And she called on the Council to develop a suicide prevention strategy and provide a suicide prevention officer. ‘I don’t want to change any group as they’re doing great work already, but I would like a forum where the Council would liaise with other agencies who are currently working on the ground in the county,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Paul Hayes said that there’s certainly a role for the Council to put these entire groups together under one umbrella and to liaise more effectively.
Cllr Noel Collins said suicide remains a ‘silent killer in the community’ and that a lot more needs to be done to get those in danger to talk and there is a glaring need for strong preventative measures to be implemented.