Laois councillor suffered four suicides in his family

Suicide impact

Laois councillor suffered four suicides in his family
By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

A Laois councillor has spoken of the pain and shock of losing multiple family members to suicide.

Cllr Ben Brennan from Crettyard, has said that support for people with suicidal thoughts is simply “not there”.

“I lost my brother, and three cousins in the last few years. My brother visited the doctor often, but giving tablets is not the answer,” Cllr Brennan said.

He spoke of his personal experience of suicide during a presentation by Josephine Rigney, the HSE’s suicide prevention officer for Laois and Offaly.

Cllr Brennan said that his late brother had spent time in the Cuan Mhuire addiction treatment centre in Athy.

“But I couldn’t get him to go back. We need somewhere closer. I saw him the night before, and he seemed 100 percent. The next morning he did it. It was a week before Christmas,” Cllr Brennan said, at the September council meeting.

Cllr Brennan said that his cousins who died included a young girl aged 14 and a young man aged 27.

“My cousins were the same, they seemed in great form. The people that are left behind, to see that happen, what they feel, they are very vulnerable,” he said.

He blamed social media as well as a lack of funding.

“Social media was one of the main problems, but they are not getting the support in schools. They are not getting the money to support people,” Cllr Brennan said.

Ms Rigney admitted that the HSE service needs improving.

“The HSE needs to do something about their services. If there is alcohol or drugs in someone’s system, they are not admitted to a psychiatric hospital. That’s one problem. But this message needs to come from everybody,” Ms Rigney said.

She listed services available, including a counsellor who visits bereaved in their homes, the Asist suicide intervention training course, and a three hour course run in Laois GAA clubs.

The HSE is developing a new programme Connecting For Life aimed at reducing suicides by 10 percent by 2020.

It will hold workshops for people vulnerable to suicide.

These include people with mental problems, members of the LGBT community, the Traveller community, young people, people with alcohol or drug problems, homeless, prisoners, refugees or migrants, economically disadvantaged, people bereaved by suicide, and professionals working in isolation such as farmers or vets.

See www.connectingforlifeireland.ie or www.yourmentalhealth.ie