The Importance of Hope
Two great events are about to happen that promote the whole area of our emotional life and our mental health. Cycle Against Suicide & Darkness into Light are incredible positive events bringing communities together in a common cause to open up much needed conversations about our emotional life. Darkness into Light May 9th is a unique, early morning experience which begins in darkness at 4.15am as thousands of people walk or run a 5km route while dawn is breaking. The early dawn represents hope. I am looking forward to participating in the Laois event in Mountmellick.
The Power of Hope
Hope is the greatest antidote against depression and despair as it symbolises light at the end of the tunnel. Hope opens up new spaces, reawakens dreams, ends anguish and allows for the individual to reconnect with themselves and others. If depression is about darkness and despair; hope infuses the world with a sense of light, opens up resilience, optimism, confidence, and generates a possibility for change. Hope is nurtured through ‘Doing’. Doing things are generated by short and medium term goals; for example walking, swimming or cycling for 20 minutes every day – all raise hope. Challenging someone’s negative thinking raises hope. You too can do, you can make an effort to connect with someone with depression and help them to think differently and act differently. By connecting you are reducing the stigma, you are saying that this person is valuable and you are raising hope and banishing depression. Hope represents the wishes of families, friends and other mental health workers; bringing people from darkness back into the light.
I was fortunate to meet Joan Freeman the founder of Pieta House on a number of occasions. She is an incredible passionate innovator who is trying to provide solutions to one of the biggest social issues for Irish society. Pieta House increasingly find their free services under constant demand and they depend on public donations and funds raised during Darkness into Light for their essential care. They are particularly passionate about male suicide innovating the ‘Mind Our Men’ campaign that aims to reduce male suicide. Men spend more time and energy thinking about servicing their cars than their bodies. And when it comes to their emotional health it’s the last priority. I am similar to many psychologists or counsellor up and down the county where 80% of all appointments for men are made by their mothers or wives. Pieta House among many other charities, Console, Suicide or Survive (SOS) etc have really captured the heart of the nation by demonstrating support and empathy for people affected by suicide. These are supported by the National Office for Suicide Prevention www.nosp.ie and a group of Suicide Resource Officers nationwide who are very committed. They run two particular programs in suicide prevention – SafeTalk and Applied Suicide Skills Training ASSiT
The Cycle against Suicide is the brainchild of Irish entrepreneur, Jim Breen. Jim was visiting a Suicide Awareness group in Dublin 15 as part of RTÉ’S documentary, The Secret Millionaire. Noticing the huge impact that this programme had on people, Jim decided that he had to use his skills and influences to help raise awareness for the supports available for suicide prevention in Ireland. The Cycle against Suicide has two core objectives:
- To raise awareness of the supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self-harm, those at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.
- To ignite more cohesion between, and awareness of, the various organisations working to prevent suicide and provide bereavement support in Ireland.
Everyone has some connection with suicide, self-harm or depression. The best way to help tackle Suicide in Ireland is to do it together. It’s a time to develop an emotional resilience and an emotional language in all our people. It’s a time to figure out more integrated and comprehensive approaches to
- Responding to individuals in distress
- Having new conversations about hope, resilience and our emotions thereby tackling suicide
- Improving, integrating and coordinating the responses from statutory and voluntary sectors thereby supporting continuous improvement
- Promoting more understanding by increasing the evidence base
Our Mental Health is just like our physical health – it is something we have to be mindful of – and from time to time we need to ask for help – and that is OK. I would love to see the day when we can talk about our mental health without have to qualify it with the word ‘mental’. I would know that we are in a space of openness and healthiness talking about our health when we don’t have to qualify it.
Suicide is claiming the lives of at least 800 people each year on the island of Ireland. A recent Europe-wide report from the European Child Safety Alliance earlier this year found that Ireland has the highest rate of suicide in young females in Europe with the second highest rate of suicide in young males. These people include fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, best friends and colleagues. It’s important to know that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It’s important to know that there is help out there. Suicidal thoughts are incredible common. Often they present as part of depression. People are advised to go to their GP for appropriate assessment and treatment.
Both events have something in common in that they recognise the beneficial impact that exercise plays in tackling low mood. Much research evidence has promoted the role of exercise in lifting low mood. I generally recommend three walks per week 30mins for people who have low mood / depression who come to see me. I appreciate that energy levels are low and we work on identify the best time, on who can provide support and all the factors that make the walk happen. Shifting low mood and depression is hard work but it’s worth it.
Together, shoulder to shoulder, we can transform the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland!
- Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634
- Console 1800 201 890
- Aware 1890 303 302
- Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email email@example.com
- Childline 1800 66 66 66