Hundreds turn out to 'mental wellness' exhibition in Kerry


A TWO-DAY “mental wellness” exhibition opened in Killarney, Co Kerry, yesterday in an attempt to tackle the county’s high suicide rate. It drew several hundred people to stands from 50 organisations offering a wide range of expertise on topics such as counselling, information on gay rights and alternative therapies.

Schools in Kerry have signed up to visit the exhibition today.

The exhibition was “the way forward”, said Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch who visited the exhibition.

“Isolation is the big one – but how do we tackle it,” she asked Maura Fitzgerald, chairperson of “Sean Chairde”, which is trying to combat loneliness among the elderly in south Kerry.

Suicide cuts right across rural communities in Ireland, Ms Lynch said. Rural transport was a vital link, she was told.

“As we speak, Alan Kelly is putting together a high-level group to deal with rural transport. I suggested Eamon Timmins from Age Action Ireland be on that group,” Ms Lynch said. The “higgledy-piggledy” and hugely costly rural transport network would have to be more structured, and as a result better, she added.

A health worker with the Traveller community, Bridget McCarthy – where suicide now represents 11 per cent of all Traveller deaths, six times more than the rate of general population – spoke of the “huge changes” experienced by Travellers.

“They are more confined now. Travellers like being out and about but now they are not allowed to camp,” she said.