Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny has strongly criticised Minister of Health James Reilly for not doing enough to tackle the scourge of suicide that has swept the country.
“The minister’s response has been inadequate,” Mr Kenny said at Oriel Park last Friday when it was announced that he is now a patron of SOSAD (Save Our Sons and Daughters) the voluntary organisation set up by Drogheda man Peter Moroney.
“SOSAD is filling a gap that has not been filled,” Mr Kenny said. “When Peter approached me to become a patron I couldn’t refuse. We need to get the message out there that there is always hope.
“People need someone to talk to. It can save a life. It’s a brilliant thing.”
The announcement was attended by students from St Vincent’s secondary school, Colaiste Ris, and members of Dundalk Fire Brigade, who were on call, but they took the time to attend.
Also present were Dundalk town councillors Conor Keelan and Sean Bellew.
Peter Moroney, founder of SOSAD, said the organisation is counselling 300 people a week, but the main problem it faces is the stigma attached to mental illness.
He said if that obstacle could be removed and people came forward, many lives could be saved.
He founded the organisation after his own son committed suicide at the age of just 16 and he realised that the structure was not there to help people in difficulty.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said, “even as a Drogheda man, that the Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is joining us.
SOSAD is joining in with suicide prevention and mental health awareness groups from all around the world to mark World Suicide Prevention Week and raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health issues.
“A large proportion of people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness,” said Elaine Galligan, SOSAD’S head of client services.
“Recent estimates suggest that the burden caused by mental illnesses will account for 25 per cent of the total disease burden in the world in the next two decades, making it the most important category of ill-health, more important than cancer or heart diseases.
“Yet a significant number of those with mental illnesses who die by suicide do not contact health or social services near the time of their death. One aim of this campaign is to reach more of those that need help and get them to speak up and reach out for the help and support that could help them live better lives. There is help out there.
“We want people who are despairing and thinking about suicide to know that there is help available. All you need to do is to ask for help,” Elaine said.
As part of the awareness campaign for this important week, SOSAD will be sending out information packs on suicide and depression to all doctors, secondary schools and sports clubs and having a week long suicide, speak up, reach out, roadside and poster campaign.