More than 150 people attended a candlelit vigil to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this week.
The service, organised by community worker Dee Quigley, was hosted at the White Chapel, Galliagh. Mr. Quigley was moved to do so having been personally affected by suicide: “I thought it was nice for families to come and stand in solidarity on this special day. It was a good way to raise awareness of the issue.”
A number of guests spoke at the event such as loved ones bereaved by suicide and motivational expert, Glen Hynds.
“I thought it was good to bring the issue onto the streets.” Mr. Quigley added: “I would encourage people to join ‘communities concerned about suicide’ on Facebook as there is strength in solidarity.
“The most important message to remember is suicide is a permanant solution to a temporary problem.”
Local political leaders used the occasion to call for better support services locally.
Pat Ramsey MLA, SDLP said hemet with the Public Health Agency, in order to discover how best to assist their work and find out what is needed in terms of local resources in order to prevent suicide and self-harm.
Mr. Ramsey added that he had asked the Minister for Finance how best to keep tendering projects on suicide and self-harm based in the community.
Sinn Féin’s Maeve McLaughlin, MLA called for an all-Ireland strategy to tackle the scourge of suicide.
Mrs. McLaughlin, a member of the Assembly’s Health Committee, said: “The scourge of suicide is a blight on all of Ireland and not only should there be a joined-up approach from all government departments in the Assembly but also an all-island strategy to tackle it.
“The figure for deaths due to suicide in Ireland could be as high as 1000 a year.
“It clearly needs a concerted and targeted approach.”
Both MLAs for Foyle also stressed the importance of talking to someone about depression or suicidal thoughts.
The Derry branch of the Samaritans marked World Suicide Prevention Day by calling on society to stop expecting men to conform to the traditional view that so called, real men, should not need to seek help.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “Stigma as a major barrier to suicide prevention is a key theme for this year. The expectations society has of men contribute to the fact that they are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.”
Contact The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK) 1850 60 90 90 (ROI).