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Action on suicide Rally
irish social forum |
Wednesday February 28, 2007 19:49 by Dr Nick
Not a day for statistics but a day for action......
The action on Suicide rally organised by the 3T's (turning the tide against suicide) grew a large crowd to this ticket only affair in the mansion house today. A crowd mainly of parents of young victims and those who worked in the mental health services.
The rally which was housed in the mansion house drew an impressive number of both national and international speakers. More importantly It was a day for Real Irish people who have been affected by this epidemic to have their say.
Cllr Vincent Jackson,Lord mayor of Dublin started proceedings by summing up what would be the mood for the day by saying' this is not a day about statistics but individuals;brothers,sons,sisters,daughters,mothers,fathers and friends.'
'Setting the scence' was the first agenda of the day chaired by Miriam O'Callaghan. Speakers included Geoff Day ,the director of the National office for suicide prevention; Lorraine Mc Gragh,speaking on behalf of the Scottish association for menatl health (SAMS)and DrKevin Malone,proffesor of Psychitrary at UCD and St Vincets hospital and co founder of the 3Ts (Turn the tide of suicide).
Both Lorraine McGragh and Dr Malone hit upon the stark contrast between the scottish 'choose life' campaign (http://www.chooselife.net) and the Irish goverments backward and sluggish mental health 'stratergies'. Lorraine Mc Gragh spoke of the huge funding that has gone into mental health awarness in Scotland and how it is being rewarded by a dramatic decline in suicide,particularly in young males. The excellent Dr Malone hit us with some harsh and startiling facts.The scottish 'choose life' campaign was given 12million euro in funding by the Scottish goverment from 2003-2006. They have since been given an extra 8.6 million to continue their work.In contrast the Irish goverment allocated 1.8 million euro into their 'Reach out' stratergy though 3.8 million was requested. People who had lost family members to suicide was visibly crying at these statstics and one mother spoke of her disgust that her childs life was only worth 50cents to the Irish goverment.
Dr Malone also spoke of voluntary organisations receiving no funding despite being inundated with people crying out for help. One such organisation located in Tallaght called 'Teenline' received almost 1000 calls in November alone last year from distressed teenagers who felt they were too young to ring the samaritans and too old to ring childline but needed someone to speak to. 'Teenline' has recieved no help,financilaly or otherwise from the goverment.
At this stage the chair took questions from the floor. The mood was very much demanding to know where Bertie Ahern,Mary Harney,Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte were on such an important day,a day to bring answers to why suicide is the biggest killer of this countrys next generation. Distraught parents and parasuicde survivors themselves wanted to know why Bertie could fly all the way to Saudi Arabia but couldnt make a trip around the corner to the mansion house to hear their stories. Dr Malone spoke to say that Mary Harney,our minister for Health was invited to attend but declined the offer. The largest applause from the audience came when cork man Pat Buckly founder of 'Lets get together foundation' and whose two brother died by suicide spoke. His foundation cannot cope with the amount of people in west cork it is helping yet has received no acknowledgment,nothing from dail eireann. In typical cork slang he summed up Mr Tim O'Malley,minister for mental health, as a 'langer'.
Two speakers from SpunOut Ireland (the only youth website in Ireland http://www.spunout.ie/) spoke of the badly needed services for young people in this country. Mr ruairi McKiernan,the 29 year old founder of the youth website said that Irish youth are growing up in a hollow society.A country where their are more golf courses then there are playgrounds. He said that like the others SpunOut receives no support from the goverment despite badly needed funds.
The afternnon session consisted of a question and answers session with representatives from all the political parties including:
John Moloney/Fianna Fail
Liam Twomey/Fine gael
John Gormely/Green party
Liz Mc Manus/Labour party
Sean Crowe/Sinn Fein
Joe Higgins/Socialist party
John Minihan/Progressive Democrat
John Moloney and Minihan were to be as expected by defending the goverments lack of spending in mental health. They seemed clearly uncomfortable by the end of the session.
While they all spoke of personal experiences none stood out more then Sean Crowes testament. He seemed to be able to give more then lipservice about suicde and Ms Maureen Bolger,founder of teenline stood up to thank Mr Crowe for all his support to teenline since it began in 2003.
Labour Td Liz Mc Manus and FG Liam Twomey gave the usual labour/fg's line of criticizing the goverment while coming up with no real answers themslves. Liz Mc Manus seemed to be foccusing on just the stigma of suicide and offered no concrete alternative to the present goverment..
Socialist td,Joe higgins was a breath of fresh air as usual by not offering empy promises or solutions but desperatly wanting to be a voice in dail eiareann for those who spoke at the rally.
The day finished with some positve action by those present signing a statement which was brought to to dail eireann today mandating the goverment to take action on this very very serious problem.