11 Aug 2022

OP ED: Better resourced and facilitated mental health services needed in Tipperary

To better understand and to better enable good outcomes with despondency we must see a better resourced and facilitated mental health service.

Mental heath

We must see a better resourced and facilitated mental health service.

By Mike Edwards, Roscrea Community Hub

For many the term death by suicide is not always an accurate or empathic way in which to describe the loss of a loved one, suicide / death by misadventure / accidental all have connotations which whether people admit to themselves or not can cause untold hurt and result in the stigmatisation which we as a society have spent decades trying to break down.

I speak from personal experience, but that experience may not be replicated within other families, often the nuance of the terminology used to describe or attribute the cause of death can be far from empathic or even handed.

We are trying to change the way in which those who lose their lives to suicide are spoken about, the word “committed” is still readily used in this context, especially as the act is not a criminal offence, died by or completed suicide are more in keeping but they too hurt families and friends so any term we used must be done so in an empathic way and always mindful of the reach such words can have, but there is another issue with the way classification is used.

It can be that the person whose death is attributed to suicide may not strictly be the case and this can at times be a hard point for their loved ones to explain or understand in simple terms. At times a loved ones “suicide” may be accidental, again a word that doesn’t really encapsulate the reality of the death, a “cry for help” and “attempt to control or negate the pain within their despondency” or indeed an actual accident due to external factors which the wider community may not have knowledge or understanding of, death by accidental drug overdose due to a lower tolerance after abstinence.

To better understand and to better enable good outcomes with despondency we must see a better resourced and facilitated mental health service, as a part of this Government and the various services need to develop a better understanding of the residual effects of suicidal ideation / self-harm/misuse of drugs than the formal and educationally structured programs that exist today.

We often expect the frontline services to bare the brunt of responsibility for intervention, and yes a better resourced frontline service could do more, the National Ambulance Service through its Paramedics and Advanced Paramedics already provide an intuitive and positive intervention when it comes to despondency, but they cannot and should not be the front line as they are only activated in an emergency life or death situation.

GP’s are a great resource although very much under resourced by the HSE for this, again personal experience has shown how a GP can make all the difference in despondency, but they cannot be the only ones on the frontline for despondency, likewise An Garda Siochana, who are the people filling in the form 104, they need and deserve better training, but is that really the role they as frontline emergency responders are destined for?

The frontline is us, those who see and speak to people every day, there are groups and charities that daily and nightly man the crisis phone lines, patrol rivers and lakes, the majority volunteers, raining and working hard to make a difference.

2.1 Improve the continuation of community level responses to suicide through planned, multi-agency approaches.

2.2 Ensure that accurate information and guidance on effective suicide prevention are provided for community-based organisations (e.g. family resource centres, sporting organisations).

2.3 Ensure the provision and delivery of training and education programmes on suicide prevention to community-based organisations.https://www.hse. ie/eng/services/list/4/mental- health-services/connecting-for- life/resilient-communities/
So what am I saying, what do I want?

Community engagement with a holistic and resourced program organised and facilitated on a level that all community groups and individuals can understand and utilise in an effective and meaningful way.

I believe the opportunity is there, I believe the individuals able and willing to deliver such programs are there, what we need now is the forums and platforms that individuals, groups and communities’ can engage within.

Connecting for Life is I believe such a program, now what we need is resourcing for the program to be developed out further and into the communities, to hear our voices, our concerns and enable the community voice to better drive outcomes.

The community does not have all the answers nor do we have the skills and resources but together with those who do, we can strive for better terminology and understanding, hopefully leading to better outcomes!

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