MUNSTER’s top rugby stars have undergone suicide prevention training with charity Console.
The first team squad have been trained in how to prevent suicide and look out for their colleagues in a unique partnership with the suicide charity, who have a full-time counselling centre in the Grange in Raheen.
The programme was a link-up between the Irish Rugby Union Players’ Association (IRUPA) and Console to provide the training to players and coaching staff in each province.
Munster’s players took part in the specialised training - called QPR, question, persuade, refer - and IRUPA player development manager Marcus Horan said the course was an “unqualified success” for all involved.
“Console’s QPR training highlights three simple steps that anyone can quickly learn to help save a life from suicide,” he said.
“A lot of the guys would now be confident in the fact that they may be able to spot the signs of someone in potential crisis.
“The thing about professional sport is that no matter what’s going on at home or in your own life, the minute you walk through the doors you have to switch on a persona.
“It shouldn’t be the case, but, in reality, it is.
“Anyone who has done the course will be going away with a bit more empathy for those around us, and a realisation that maybe there are things going on in a person’s life that mean a quiet chat may be the best thing.
“And that quiet chat may be the most important thing that you can have with a person,” he added.
Marcus, who has retired after a starry playing career, said he helped to organise the training after suicide touched his own community of Clonlara.
“My own home village of Clonlara has lost a fair few people to suicide over the past ten years, and I know that people need to talk when they are touched by this,” he explained.
“Rugby is very much group-led, and word of this course, and the help available from Console, will spread throughout the game,” he added.
Console offer counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide.
Founder and CEO Paul Kelly said the training was essential to people involved in group activity in any profession.
“Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognise the warning signs of a suicide crisis know how to offer hope and then how to offer help and save a life,” he said.
IRUPA CEO Omar Hassanien said he was delighted with the player reaction to the Console courses.
“Mental health has always been a pillar of our player wellbeing strategy,” he said.
“We are delighted with the feedback from our sessions with Console,” he added.
Console has full-time counselling centres nationwide and counselling is available for any individual, couples, families or children who have been affected by suicide.
The Console centre in Limerick can be reached on 061 -306792.
Console can be reached at any time on freephone 1800 247 247 and many resources and useful information can be found at www.console.ie.