‘Employ youth to patrol Derry bridges and river’

River Foyle.
River Foyle.

A Derry student today calls for young people to be given the opportunity of paid employment to patrol Derry’s bridges and river to help tackle the suicide crisis currently facing the city.

The 17-year-old is hoping to start a conversation and set up practical solutions after Foyle Search & Rescue recently revealed they attended a staggering 60 emergency incidents in July....

There have recently been a lot more people dying by suicide.

Having experiences struggles in my life myself, I know what it is like to be in such difficulties. There is plenty of counselling services out there but it’s mad that you have to have reached that point where you are suicidal or depressed to get access to the best counselling - you have to be at your lowest point. I don’t think that should be the case but that is how it is at the minute.

There will be people who have reached their limit and who may feel they can’t go on, that nothing else is going to work for them, and all it might take to prevent a tragedy at that point is having someone there to say ‘how are you doing?’ or give them a smile, start a conversation, give them that chance.

At night-time there should be trained professional adults on the bridges as incidents are more likely to happen then. But at other times there could be young people there, and this could kill two birds with one stone: saving lives a bit better than we are doing at the moment and giving young people a chance to work. They could be paid to work in teams for three to four hour shifts in groups stationed along the bridges with walkie talkies and an adult co-ordinator, so they could communicate and tell others, ‘I’m worried about this person...’.

You could have say eight people on each bridge, four on each side communicating with each other. As well as helping to save lives, they could also put this type of work on their CVs, UCAS forms, and it’s a social opportunity so they could be making friends as well.

Everybody from outside is looking in at Derry at the minute and they are shocked at what is happening. This is something practical and something that will make a difference.’

*The Lifeline helpline can be contacted for free on 0808 808 8000 in confidence and Samaritans can be contacted on 02871 265511 or Freephone 116 123 in confidence.

*Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.