Guidelines to be issued on suicide prevention
All secondary schools in the State are to be issued with guidelines on suicide prevention next month as part of an initiative to promote a better way of responding to students’ mental health needs.
The issue of suicide among young people has come to the fore following the death of Shannon Gallagher (15) this week, six weeks after her sister, Erin (13), took her own life.
The deaths are the latest in a series of high-profile cases involving schoolgirls who have taken their own lives.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Kathleen Lynch are due to issue the guidelines which promote a “whole school” approach to mental health promotion.
They will be designed to support principals, guidance counsellors, student support teams and teachers. In addition, boards of management and in-school management teams will also be asked to play a central leadership role in mental health promotion.
Console, the national suicide prevention organisation, has called for increased education and action in identifying possible suicide and self-harm clustering in communities.
The group’s chief executive, Paul Kelly, said several communities across Ireland were trying to cope with a cluster of suicides within a short space of time locally. “We need to address the increased risk of suicide and self-harm clustering and contagion, in particular among young people,” he said.
“Early identification of, and responding to, emerging suicide clusters is critical in reducing the incidence of suicide within our communities.”
Meanwhile, Shannon Gallagher’s mother, Lorraine, has said she does not know where she is going to find the strength to bury her second daughter later today.
Ms Gallagher (36) said she must remain strong for her two girls and their little brother, Seán James (4), who they left behind. “I know I have to be strong for my girls. They were strong girls. I have to stay strong and to say one final goodbye to Shannon. I know she will be with Erin soon.”
She said the local community had been extremely supportive of her family over recent days. Hundreds of people visited the family’s home in Ballybofey in the last two days. “I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without the support and kindness of people.
“I just hope that nobody has to go through what I am going through. I pray they don’t,” she said.
Anyone in need of support is urged to contact the Samaritans on 1890-200091; or Console on 1800-201890.
HSE helpline, 1850-400911. The line is available to parents in Donegal concerned about their children.