Priest warns social media linked to ‘suicide epidemic’

LOCAL priest Fr Cathal Deery, has spoken out on the “suicide epidemic” that has claimed the lives of over 307 people across the North during the past year. 
Speaking to the Herald, the Derrygonnelly parish priest discussed the increase of suicides in rural areas like Fermanagh, “Rural areas in particular can be very isolating, and people might not even be aware of it,” he said. 
In a short space of time, the new year has already recorded several fatalities by suicide, the youngest death being only 11 years old. 
Commenting on the “dangerous” link between mental health and social media, Fr Deery said, “I think the social media explosion has had a massive impact on young people and their mental health. The younger generation have access to so much, every minute of the day through their mobile phones and other devices, but what they see is an unrealistic world. 
“The power of social media while it’s wonderful in one respect can offer young people a false sense of the world and themselves, a world with unrealistic pressures and expectations, that’s what makes everything so dangerous.”
Fr Deery went on to explain how, “The internet may offer us a window into everything, but we still need human contact for our well-being, and that is what social media can deprive the youth of. They still need to be in communication with people face to face, which is important if we are going to tackle this issue.” 
However, Fr Deery remains “troubled” that society has “normalised” suicide over the years. He said, “The overall issue of suicide among people is obviously a major problem, but there’s a danger that it has became normalised within society. 
“While there has been a change over the years to de-stigmatise suicide, we must remember that without any judgement, we have to get it across that suicide is a very abnormal death,” said Fr Deery.
“The feeling of grief that comes from a bereaved family due to suicide is a grief like no other. Death unsettles us all but suicide leaves a very different scar on the lives of those who have been affected. We must encourage people to seek the right help.”

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