Suicide prevention groups meet with Mary Lou McDonald

Start360's Stephen Barr and Ronan McGinley were part of a delegation meeting with Mary Lou McDonald in Belfast.

Start360's Stephen Barr and Ronan McGinley were part of a delegation meeting with Mary Lou McDonald in Belfast.

Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Sinn Fein Party Leader and all-Ireland Spokesperson on Mental Health & Suicide Prevention met with community groups today at the offices of Bridge of Hope, a department of Ashton Community Trust.

Monday’s meeting in North Belfast involved TD Mary Lou McDonald and Cork TD Pat Buckley hearing views from community sector representatives working on suicide prevention across the city.

Speaking after the meeting Irene Sherry and Stephen Barr from the Belfast Forum for Suicide Prevention said they were delighted to meet with the Sinn Fein TDs and highlight recent community efforts to reenergize hearts and minds around suicide prevention.

“Suicide claimed the lives of 55 people in Belfast last year and so far this year we know even more families have lost loved ones. Our efforts to establish a cross departmental community focused task force have been building in recent months and we are very keen to see this move forward. It was extremely worthwhile to hear from Mary Lou and Pat around efforts across the island of Ireland nationally and share our experiences locally.”

Mary Lou McDonald TD added: “It was a very useful and informative meeting. Mental health and suicide know no boundaries of class or political allegiance. As a collective community we need to work together and learn from each other and support each other in the work that lie ahead. The challenges are considerable but we have the talent and energy in the community to make a huge difference. We need a joined up mental health strategy - we need proper resourcing, fresh thinking and political will to make the change. These changes affect very community in every town, in very village and every city right across Ireland, so individuals and families who have struggled with mental health or loss by suicide must remember they are not on their own.”

Pat Buckley TD added: “It was a frank, open and honest meeting. It was certainly educational and of benefit to both sides. It does instill a sense of determination and to drive positive mental health, raise awareness and bring communities together and remember there is no colour, class, creed, religion or politics when it comes to suicide. It affects us all”