Sunday 22 September 2019

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Cork Independent

Lifestyle & Leisure

Increasing the awareness of suicidal distress

Thursday, 22nd August, 2019 8:54am

John Barry

A Cork suicide and self-harm prevention charity is trying to increase awareness of its services after moving to a central city location over a year ago.

One in seven adults have experienced mental health issues in the last 12 months and it costs Pieta House approximately €1,000 to bring one person through the therapy service each year.

Since opening in December 2013, Pieta House Cork has seen its client base grow exponentially. The charity was established to provide free and accessible professional services to people who are in suicidal crisis or who are self-harming.

Previously situated in Bishopstown, it relocated to a new facility in Shanakiel House in June 2018 to enhance the services of Pieta House across Cork city and county.

Established in Dublin in 2006, Pieta House began with just one centre of four staff, and has since expanded to fifteen centres nationwide, along with three outreach services (Ballina, Sligo and Ennis) and one in reach service with BelongTo.

The organisation now employs over 270 therapists and administrative staff. From its inception, all of the services provided have been offered completely free of charge. Since opening, it has worked with over 46,000 people, and has adopted a crucial role among Ireland’s leading charitable organisations.

Cork Centre Manager Sylvia O’Driscoll-Wong said: “It is important that our services are readily accessible. Our central location ensures that we can offer support to all those seeking help in Cork. To date, over 4,400 people have passed through our Cork services, receiving crisis intervention and bereavement services from our professionally qualified and accredited therapists.

“At its heart, Pieta is about working with people to lift levels of suicidal ideation, to help them bring hope back into their lives, to improve their levels of self-care, and to support people and families that have been impacted by the loss of a loved one by suicide.”

As over 80 per cent of its proceeds comes from fundraising events and donations, Pieta House’s fifteen centres nationwide and three outreach services all rely on fundraising and public support.

Darkness into Light, Pieta House’s flagship fundraising event of the year, was highly significant for the Cork region this year. Over 20,828 people took part in the global fight against suicide held on 11 May out of a total 200,000 people globally.

Ms O’Driscoll-Wong said: “It is so important that our services are offered free of charge and no referral from a GP is required. It is vital, services such as ours exist within our communities, that we make it easy for people to ask for and to get help they need, to make the difference in their lives, to feel better.”

Prevention service is a key pillar in the work of Pieta House. The Pieta House Resilience Academy is an initiative to teach second year students positive mental health techniques and strategies. It is a six-week, evidence-based programme that was designed with schools, for schools. The programme aims to provide students with skills and coping mechanisms that are needed to succeed in school, and throughout their adult lives.

Pieta House also provides a free-phone 24/7 Helpline, 1800-247247, and operates a Suicide Bereavement Counselling Service providing free counselling, therapy and support to those who have been bereaved by suicide.

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