A suicide awareness event organised by Cairncastle Coastal Clergy group was fully booked with participants coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions.
The event took place in the Halfway House Hotel in Ballygally on January 27, and the clergy group had received funding from the Public Health Agency and the North Antrim Community Network.
The 36 participants included representatives of education, police, community groups, churches, sports clubs and healthcare organisations.
The Rev Roger Thompson, rector of St Patrick’s, Cairncastle with All Saints’, Craigyhill, welcomed everyone and introduced the facilitator, Rick Allen, an experienced trainer with ‘Dare to Stretch.’ Rick has been taking this Level One course for six years, and the objective for the evening was to learn how caregivers can help reduce the risk of suicide.
Adopting a river theme to illustrate the three areas of prevention, intervention and postvention, Rick used the four steps of TALK (Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep safe) as a means to explore issues in suicide prevention through group discussion. One in 17 people will have thoughts of suicide and if so they should Tell someone exactly what they are saying to themselves. If someone shows signs of depression, Ask them if they are thinking about suicide, as directly, and clearly as possible. Listen to what they are telling you and Keep safe by helping them until further help and support is available.
Mr Thompson said those attending found the evening very informative and 27 expressed interest in completing the Level Two follow-on course. Consideration will be given to running this with further events.
In Northern Ireland 125 young people under the age of 35 died through suicide in 2008.
Mr Thompson said: “Since this programme we have had the tragic news from west Belfast where an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old died from suicide in separate incidents. This underlines the vital need for us to understand the issues in this area and to take preventative action.”