As World Suicide Prevention Week comes to an end on Monday next the Donegal Democrat has changed our front page colour to orange in support of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday.
Suicide and self harm is at an all time high in Ireland.
Donegal has not been spared from this tragedy.
The aim of the Light Up Orange Campaign, which has been rolled out nationally, is to engage and mobilise communities to turn Ireland orange, with landmarks, buildings, businesses and homes in every corner of the island lighting up orange at 8pm on Saturday, September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day.
Many families have experienced that dreaded knock on the door in the middle of the day or night which brings with it inconsolable news.
It is news that has left families bereft of understanding. The questions. “How did we not see anything?” What if I had been there” - there are simply so many “what if's “ but very few answers.
Attached to the grief there is also a lot of self blame with families just feeling helpless and a form of self guilt which is not really justified..
The simple fact is that there are more people dying by suicide than in road accidents.
In recent months the County Coroner Dr. Denis McCauley has spoken out about the high incidence in Donegal.
Dr. McCauley recently said, “we have a real blight here in Donegal” and revealed that he had dealt with 16 cases in the past year.
He said the national average is ten deaths per 100,000 people, and in Donegal the figure is 7.9 per 100,000.
But he said the number of suicide inquests he is dealing with means the actual figure here is closer to 13 deaths per 100,000.
“The most common age of deaths of people is under 25,” he said.
“We have a suicide rate which is higher than the national average and it's affecting a disproportionate group.”
Dr. McCauley added that the people of Donegal need to start talking about suicide and work together to prevent more tragedies. He said: “I know there is a reluctance to talk about it but quite honestly talking about it could easily save a life.”
In the last number of years we have all seen the emergence of very important organisations like Cycle Against Suicide, Pieta House , Shout and many others.
Cycle against Suicide has visited Donegal on two occasions in the last three years and left a lasting impression on everybody who encountered them from one end of the county to another.
This weekend the organisation is holding their “Light Up Orange” event encouraging people and businesses to light an orange light in their homes or businesses in solidarity with the many people who have been struck by the tragedy.
Donegal Town woman, Anne McGowan, national organiser of Shine a Light has invited everybody to participate locally and across Donegal and this newspaper is happy to endorse that call.
If you have been affected by suicide you can talk to The Samaritans, tel: 116 123; cycleagainstsuicide.com and www.pieta.ie.
pieta.ie and samaritans.ie
Pictured: Coffee, chat and connect. Anne McGowan, Shirley Doherty, Sharon Mitchell and Sarah Gillespie of the "Light up Orange" committee. INDD 0809 CAS 2 MVB