OP ED: Better resourced and facilitated mental health services are needed in Tipperary

By Mike Edwards, Roscrea Community Hub

For many the term death by suicide is not always an accurate or empathetic way of describing the loss of a loved one, suicide/misadventure/accidental death all have connotations that whether people admit to themselves or no, can cause injury and untold results. in the stigma that we as a society have spent decades trying to break.

I speak from personal experience, but that experience may not be replicated in other families, often the nuance of terminology used to describe or assign cause of death may be far from empathetic or even manual.

We are trying to change the way we talk about those who lose their lives by suicide, the word “committed” is still readily used in this context, especially since the act is not a criminal offence, the death or suicide is more but they also hurt families and friends so any term we use should be done in an empathetic way and always aware of the scope these words can have but there is another problem with how classification is used.

The person whose death is attributed to suicide may not strictly be the case and this can sometimes be a difficult point to explain or understand in simple terms for their loved ones. Sometimes the “suicide” of a loved one can be accidental, again a word that doesn’t quite sum up the reality of death, a “call for help” and an “attempt to control or deny the pain in their discouragement” or even a real accident due to external factors that the wider community may not be aware of or understand, death from accidental drug overdose due to lower tolerance after abstinence.

To better understand and better enable good outcomes with discouragement, we need to see a better staffed and facilitated mental health service, as part of this government and the various services need to develop a better understanding of the residual effects of suicidal ideation/self-harm/ drug abuse than the formal, educational programs that exist today.

We often expect the frontline services to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the response, and yes, a better resourced frontline service could do more, the National Ambulance Service, through its advanced paramedics and paramedics, already provide an intuitive and positive response to discouragement, but they cannot and should not be on the front line as they are only activated in life or death emergencies.

GPs are a great resource although very little funded by the HSE for this, again personal experience has shown how a GP can make all the difference in discouragement but they cannot be the only ones in frontline for despondency, likewise An Garda Siochana, who are the people who fill out the 104 form, they need and deserve better training, but is that really the role they are meant to be as emergency responders front line?

The frontline is us, those who see and talk to people every day, there are groups and charities manning day and night crisis hotlines, patrolling rivers and lakes, the majority of volunteers, raining and working hard to make a difference.

2.1 Improve ongoing community responses to suicide through planned, multi-agency approaches.

2.2 Ensure that accurate information and advice on effective suicide prevention is provided to community organizations (eg, family resource centres, sports organizations).

2.3 Ensure the supply and delivery of suicide prevention training and education programs to community organizations. https://www.hse. ie/eng/services/list/4/mental-health-services/connecting-for-life/resilient-communities/
So what do I say, what do I want?

Community engagement with a holistic and resourced program, organized and facilitated at a level that all community groups and individuals can understand and use effectively and meaningfully.

I believe the opportunity is there, I believe the individuals able and willing to deliver such programs are there, what we need now are the forums and platforms in which individuals, groups and communities can engage.

Connecting for Life is, I believe, such a program, now what we need are resources for the program to be developed further and in the communities, to hear our voices, our concerns and allow the voice of community to better generate results.

The community doesn’t have all the answers, nor do we have the skills and resources, but with those who do, we can strive to improve terminology and understanding, which hopefully will lead to better results!

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