Daily Ireland

Leitrim families launch campaign to prevent suicide

Three mothers whose sons took their own lives are launching a new campaign to raise awareness of suicide in the south of Ireland.
Formed by three families in the small Co Leitrim village of Dromahair, the STOP (Suicide: Teach, Organise, Prevent) campaign hopes to curb the massive suicide rate nationally.
The three families live within a five mile radius in Dromahair. Their sons’ deaths took to nine the total of deaths by suicide in Co Leitrim since 2004.
“If there were nine deaths by road traffic accidents in Leitrim there would be an outcry,“ said a STOP spokesperson. “There are huge drink driving and speeding campaigns - and rightly so - but since suicide remains hidden nothing gets done about it.”
Two years ago 444 people died from suicide in the south of Ireland, this exceeded the number of deaths by road traffic accidents, which was 336 in 2003.
10,000 more people attempted suicide. Of those who died 80 per cent were male. Tragically, suicide is one of the top three causes of death in the 15-24 age range in Ireland but STOP says that “through education and public awarenss” they hope to stamp out the tragic phenomenon.
Mary and John Tiernan lost their only son Gary in January 2004. He was just 24.
“Gary was the last person you would have expected to have done something like this,” his mother said yesterday.
“He loved his car and mobile and cigarettes. He was bubbly and cheerful and was always acting the clown but he was shy and sensitive behind it. He had a job and had had a couple of relationships.
“There were a few girls who liked him more as a friend than as someone to go out with it. That’s really all he complained about,” Mrs Tiernan said.
Gary went shopping for clothes on Saturday afternoon and was watching TV with his father late that night. When his father went to bed Gary said he would follow him up. The next morning John Tiernan noticed his son’s bed hadn’t been slept in and when he saw a light on in the garage outside he went to check it out.
John discovered Gary had hanged himself.
Now the Tiernans and other families in the area are trying to start a national awareness campaign on the phenomenon of self-inflicted death which has affected so many people across Ireland.
Over 400 delegates from grieving families to doctors, community groups, youth workers and other agencies are attending the STOP conference at the Abbey Manor Hotel in Dromahair today and tomorrow.
“We still don’t know exactly what format our support group will take yet,” Mrs Tiernan explained. “We are talking to people who are involved in all aspects of suicide and will judge then how we can best serve people feeling suicidal and those coping with it.”

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