Sunday, September 28, 2008

Limerick priest calls for 24-hour ‘sanctuaries’ to help the depressed

A Limerick priest has predicted that ireland’s suicide problem is going to get much worse and called for ‘sanctuaries’ to be open around the clock in major population centres to help people who are depressed.

Fr Joe Young said the number of people who took their own lives had risen by 12 per cent between 2006 and 2007 alone and called for "serious" action to address the issue.

Fr Young, who himself works with families who are bereaved by suicides, said the incidence of number of suicide could be much higher than statistics show because of underreporting and the number of sudden deaths where the cause is unclear.

"The silence on suicide at a political level is scandalous -there is absolute denial as to the level of suicide that exists” he claimed.

“The numbers taking their lives in Limerick is definitely increasing and it is only going to get worse unless the problem is seriously addressed," he said.

Fr Young criticised the allocation of a budget of only €4.5m for the National Suicide Prevention Office as a "pittance".

He said action is needed on a number of levels, including the “eradication” of the stigma attached to suicide and depression, more education at schools about these issues and more hospital beds available for severely depressed people.

"Our young people need to be exposed to ways of dealing with pain and need to understand pain is part of life, but that support is there for them" said Fr Young.

"If people need support they can go to the Samaritans or their local GPs, but it needs to go way beyond that”.

"I'm suggesting that we open a centre in Limerick, 24 hours a day, where people could come for sanctuary and be listened to” he suggested.

“There's many out there willing to give up their time, and I, for one, would be first to offer my services full time to it and this should be happening in every town and city".

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(Source: CIN)

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