THE Laois VEC committee last week were given a cohesive presentation on what they can be doing in their secondary schools to raise awareness of suicide and help prevent it.
Giving the presentation were Ms Siobhan Foster and Mr Fergal Fox from the HSE Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, both of whom are former teachers. Ms Foster based in Dublin and Mr Fox based in Tullamore discussed new guidelines which were sent to schools in February. “The guidelines build good practice and help to improve co-operation between bodies such as the HSE and schools. They show how people can link in with services”, Mr Fox said. He was echoed by Ms Foster who said that having worked as a guidance councillor in a school, the information can be confusing. She spoke about the “health promoting school” which looks at the social and physical environment, how health is addressed across the curriculum, family and community links and the policy and planning of the school. Ms Foster also emphasised the importance of proper social personal and health education (SPHE) in schools. Speaking after the presentation chairperson Mary Sweeney said that the committee needed the opportunity to develop the presentation further adding that it was a “critically important” issue.