May 30, 2007

'Because you're worth it' motto used to help prevent suicide

Erin Golden

Five thousand magnets printed with information on suicide prevention, contact details for support services and the slogan "because you're worth it" are being distributed throughout Dublin 17 as part of a new collaboration between local youth and community organisations.

The magnets are the starting point for a campaign created in response to increased concerns about suicide and the deaths of young people in the area and throughout the State; last year, almost 500 people died by suicide and hospitals reported some 11,000 cases of self-harm.

In response to the growing problem, members of the Sphere 17 Regional Youth Service, the Buzzin' Buddies youth group, Positive Response Group and a Samaritans volunteer began meeting earlier this year to develop a prevention and awareness strategy for their local area.

"We knew that a youth service alone wouldn't be able to address this issue," said Mick Ferron, manager of the Sphere 17 Youth Service. "Our first couple of meetings were really a space for the young people to express their concerns and frustrations in relation to the [suicide] issue, to tell us what they'd been seeing."

Out of the initial meetings, Mr Ferron and the other organisation representatives discovered that the community's biggest need was for more widespread information and support resources. They decided to create a plan that would help dissolve the stigma that often surrounds mental illness and suicide.

"One of the things we looked at was the informational deficit in the area," he said. "We thought there might be a benefit to pooling information about what services are out there, what numbers are out there, but also what you can do about a friend or family member or colleague having problems."

In addition to the information on the magnets, the team plans to create a website with further information and has sponsored an art contest for young people centred on the "because you're worth it" theme.

"The slogan came from an acknowledgement that sometimes people are in a place where they consider suicide as a realistic option," Mr Ferron said.