Dungannon suicide awareness and prevention charity urge people not to suffer in silence

editorial image

A Dungannon based suicide awareness and prevention charity are urging those who need help, not to be afraid to ask for it.

The Niamh Louise Foundation, told the TIMES they see on average, 5-6 people every day for interventions, complementary therapy, mentoring and befriending, and one to one work, throughout the year.

Alongside their headquarters on Killybracky Road, Dungannon, the foundation also have outreach centres in Coalisland and Cookstown.

The message which the charity want to get across to people in the area is that ‘it is ok to ask for help’.

A spokesperson for the Niamh Louise Foundation told the TIMES: “We would like to reassure people that there are services out there - community, voluntary, and statutory - which exist to help people in despair or who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm.

“If anyone feels vulnerable they need to reach out and ask for help, it is too hard to deal with emotional pain on your own and unless you share how you are really feeling with someone you won’t get the help you need and deserve. If you had a chest pain you would go to your doctor and ask for help. The same applies when you have emotional pain. It is ok to ask for help. We would also encourage family members or loved ones who are concerned about someone to contact their GP or ourselves at the Niamh Louise Foundation.”

Gerry Bleakney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement in the Southern area at the Public Health Agency (PHA), told the TIMES: “For some people Christmas can be a very difficult time, perhaps because of the expense involved, stress, loss of a loved one, or feelings of isolation or loneliness.

“After the rush of Christmas, the New Year can also be a challenging time with bills arriving and people often feeling lonely as their family and friends return to their normal daily activities.

“However, figures show that the number of people accessing mental health support services actually remains steady throughout the year, so while people may feel that December and January are particularly bad, it is clear that we need to be aware of the signs of stress and depression all year round and to seek help if we, or someone we know, is under stress or needs support.

“Taking time out to remember a few simple ways to protect your mental wellbeing at this time of year could make all the difference. These include: giving and accepting support – being available for others if they need support will encourage them to be there for you too and make time for yourself, family and friends – and talk to them about how you feel.

Gerry continued: “It is important to look out for behaviour or feelings that could indicate that you, or someone you know, is showing signs of stress or problems under the surface. More information on looking after your mental health and the support available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info

“If you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a free confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”