CHRISTMAS can be a very challenging time of year for vulnerable members of society, Fine Gael TD and president of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville said this week, when he urged people to look after the mental health of those they loved. “If you think someone in your life is overly burdened, talk to them,” he said.
“While Christmas should be a joyous occasion, it can also be a very challenging time for many people. Financial problems can seem amplified at this time of year, adding to stresses and concerns. The horrible reality is that many families will be left devastated by suicide this Christmas. I would urge everyone to think of your close friends and relatives, and reach out to anyone who may be feeling vulnerable,” Mr Neville continued.
And he anticipated that stress levels would be even greater this Christmas as the economic situation affects a high number of people. “Suicide rates and mental health problems increase during times of recession and this phenomenon is no less prevalent at Christmas, when added stress can lead people to feel embattled and overwhelmed.”
Mr Neville said the government had sent out “a very strong message” by ring -fencing €35 million for the delivery of mental health care in the community. “I have also urged the Minister for Health to allocate €4 million of the this funding specifically to the National Suicide Prevention Office. This could go towards the introduction of suicide prevention programmes, raising awareness about how to deal with those who are suicidal, and ensuring that services are there for people in crisis,” Mr Neville oncluded.
”We are committed to ending the stigma on mental illness and, by ensuring early and appropriate intervention, we can make it easier for people to seek help when they need it, be it at Christmas, or any other time of year.”
If you need help, the Samaritans can be contacted at callsave 1850 609090 or 061-412111. Aware also operates a 24-hour helpline at LoCall 1890 303302.