June 19, 2007

Push to reduce youth suicides

Irish Health: Tues 19th June 2007

Young people in distress are to be told of the many avenues of available help in a major campaign to cut youth suicides.

Ireland has the fifth highest suicide rate in Europe among 15 to 25-year-olds. The problem is especially severe in young men, and death by suicide is the leading cause of death among young Irish males.

Four out of 10 deaths by suicide here are of males under the age of 35.

The campaign starting today, called 'Tough Times', seeks to make young people aware that their problems are often very common, and can be eased by sharing.

It has been put together by the charity and website Spunout.ie, with support from Console, a charity for those bereaved by suicide, and Turning the Tide of Suicide (3Ts), a research and help organisation.

The National Office of Suicide Prevention has given funding for a series of national TV ads, featuring Ian Howley, a 22-year-old student who attempted suicide three times in his teens. Howley came through his difficulties and has become involved with Spunout.

"I don’t want any other person to have to feel what I felt, and to go through what I have ­ there is someone you can talk to, so no-one need suffer alone," he says.

The internet will be central to the campaign, as the organisers believe young men, in particular, view online as confidential and accessible for getting information and advice.

Men are often reluctant to seek professional advice to help them cope with difficulties, they say. Andrew Garvey of Console said the message of 'Tough Times' was that people need not feel alone when faced with problems. "It’s perfectly normal to experience tough times in life," he said. "But however big a problem might seem, it is not insurmountable. Talking about an issue can make such a difference."

TV ads for 'Tough Times' start tonight, and there will also be posters, media features, and presence at festivals and concerts.

Cork rock group the Frank and Walters have donated their work on the background track for the advertisements.