As the CEO and Founder of Suicide or Survive (SOS), a charitable organisation that is dedicated to working towards the eradication of death by suicide, devoted to educating all generations in matters related to mental health wellness and passionate about removing the stigma associated with mental health challenges – I often get asked to share my story.
A number of years ago, I was rushing through life – a young, successful, bright member of the business community striving to run a very successful business and living life to the full. Looking back it is clear that I just didn’t see the decline of my overall wellness. What started as mild feelings of anxiety soon became panic attacks. From here I suffered severe anxiety and became very low and reached a stage where I just felt that I couldn’t cope. Sadly for me this was point where I believed suicide was the only option for me and I attempted to take my own life. Thankfully I didn’t succeed.
Overall I spent eight years as a user of the psychiatric services, and this left me with an in-depth knowledge of the medical model, how and why a person is diagnosed and the treatment they may receive in Ireland. I know how limited the services can be.
When I came through the experience of attempting suicide, I decided to change my life and in doing so, to be an ambassador of change to support those who may be facing the challenges that I had faced. I felt compelled to support those that face those dark times.
And so began the journey of SOS. Ours is an organisation built on passion and determination. Our passion is the creation of a society where it is ok to talk about issues relating to mental health and our determination is that, through collaboration, we will create a society where maintaining our mental health is as much an every-day part of life as maintaining our dental health.
The mental health of our nation is currently being challenged. We are going through very tough times. But we have great community spirit in Ireland and I believe we can come through, we can become resilent and we can support and care for one another when it gets tough.
One of the key programmes that SOS has developed is the Wellness Workshop. These workshops have been developed by drawing on SOS’s unique experience and expertise in the corporate, community and voluntary sectors. There is enormous pressure on everyone in our society and unfortunately some people find it more difficult to cope than others. The Wellness Workshop offers participants an array of practical tools and workable solutions to help them maintain their mental wellness in both their personal and professional lives. We will be running a Wellness Workshop in Mountmellick on Monday 17th September as part of Laois Connects.
Overall, my message and the message that SOS is endeavouring to deliver on is this “Let’s listen to our fears and our anxiety and know there is support in one another and in our communities. Let’s challenge the myths that exist around mental health and suicide and let’s educate ourselves on the facts and so change the run of play in the battle against suicide.”
Caroline McGuigan, CEO & Founder, Suicide or Survive www.suicideorsurvive.ie Tel : 1890 577 577
Caroline speaks at the Community Centre in Portarlington on Monday, September 7 at 8pm