Massive increase in rate of suicide across the county

WITH FIGURES showing the number deaths by suicide Fermanagh has increased by over 50 percent in the past decade, those in distress are urged to remember help is at hand in the local community.
A recent report revealed the number of deaths by suicide in the Fermanagh and Omagh area rose from 18 in 2008 to 23 in 2018, an increase of over 53 percent. 
While the number of suicides has increased overall, across the North the total increase was 282 in 2008 to 307 in 2018, an increase of just under nine percent. 
According to Patricia Flanagan from the Oak Healthy Living Centre in Lisnaskea, the increase in the number of deaths locally is also being seen in rural areas across the North. 
She also explained the number of actual deaths by suicide could even be higher than the figures in the recent report, due to differences in how some deaths are reported. 
The Oak centre, as well as others such as the Aisling Centre in Enniskillen and the Arc Health Living Centre in Irvinestown, provides numerous classes, courses and initiatives throughout the year to help promote and protect mental wellbeing in the local community. 
Ms Flanagan said there was much we can do to help look after our mental health, much like we look after our physical health. 
“You have your five fruit and vegetables, but there is the ‘take five’ for your mental health too. Give, be active, keep learning, take notice, and connect,” she said. 
Ms Flanagan added, however, that for those in immediate distress it was vitally important to make them know help is at hand. 
“Be aware there is somewhere you can go to,” said Ms Flanagan. “At this time of year we would be promoting Lifeline, the 24/7 helpline for people in crisis. People think it’s just for suicide, but it’s not. If you are distressed, feeling anxious, and so on, there are trained counsellors on the other side of the phone.
“There are services out there, but it’s about letting people know what services are there.” 
ENNISKILLEN Dean Kenny Hall has made an impassioned plea to those in distress to stop and seek help.
Commenting on the rising number of local deaths by suicide, Rev Hall made a very strong appeal for all people especially young people to think before they act.
“We want our young people to realise that no matter what they may be feeling, no matter what they have or haven’t done, no matter what the situation, there are people who do care about them and will help them find a way through,” said Rev Hall, who is Church of Ireland chaplain at the SWAH. “There are many agencies, many help lines and many individuals all willing to help.”
Rev Hall, pictured below, said local clergy of all denominations often made themselves available 24 hours a day for people to contact in emergencies, on a confidential basis.
“We, as clergy, are not there to condemn thoughts or actions,” he said. “We want to make ourselves available for people to consult, to talk through issues and to guide and direct, whether those issues are family issues, social issues, relationship issues, sexual issues, financial issues, or school/university issues. We are available and willing to help.”
Overall, Rev Hall stressed: “There is always another direction to take, but sometimes people need help in finding that direction, so please, please seek help.” 
“This year alone too many families have been affected by suicide and, as well as having a devastating impact on those families, it also affects their friends and the communities in which they live. 
“As responsible members of the community we must encourage all people, especially our young people, to talk about their problems with whoever they feel comfortable speaking to, and to seek help when they so desperately need it.” 
Helpline numbers…
• Lifeline, counselling helpline  – 0808 808 8000
• Samaritans listening ear  service – freeohone 116 123
• Domestic Violence helpline 
– 0808 2000 247
•  Childline – 0800 1111
•  Out-of-hours GP 
– 028 71865195

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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