I’m writing this mainly to keep everyone up to date on what’s been happening over the last few weeks. It’s been a bit surreal. We started a campaign to combat suicide and it basically caught fire. We, meaning me and you reading this, and we meaning myself and a dude named Edmond White. See, although I wrote the article that started this all and I began the petition, I probably wouldn’t have been in the right frame of mind to have decided to do those things. See Edmond has always been an advocate of suicide prevention. A few weeks before this campaign began Edmond had began talking to me about his idea to create a page, a place where people could get information about mental health, suicide prevention and how to get help. It was also a place where people could tell us about their battle with mental health anonymously or named, it was up to themselves. This idea manifested recently when we launched ‘Fight Against Suicide’ on Facebook, as many of you may know by now. So to put it bluntly, Edmond had really led me to starting this campaign and it’s for that reason that I want everyone to know that he is fundamentally involved and a core part of what has happened so far.
So that’s how it all began. We had been discussing doing something and then this spike in suicides came out of nowhere. We couldn’t understand how or why it was happening. Of course, we were angry. We were angry that this was still happening and it didn’t seem like anything was being done to stop it. On Wednesday the 16th I wrote on this blog what I thought was wrong and what needed to be done, this was only two days after the most recent suicide at the time. Of course, you all showed me that you really cared, when thousands of you read and agreed with me, that we needed to educate in order to prevent more deaths. Inspired by the support, I decided I had done enough talking and that action was needed so on Thursday the 17th I launched this petition, to get compulsory mental health education into secondary schools. WE all know how that went. It took on a life of its own and we saw how important his issue really was to people. 5,310 people have singed at time of writing. I want to say thanks to anyone who has supported this so far because to me, this well always be a WE thing. Without the support this far, it would never have come this far.
Within the first 7 hours of the petition being live (over 2,000 signed), a local councillor, Nicholas O’Keeffe had caught wind of it and immediately contacted me on Twitter insisting he would help us get it to city council and from there, to the Minister of Education. His enthusiasm was really encouraging and without his support we wouldn’t be where we are now either. You can see the recurring theme here, it’s a group effort.
Fast forward to last Monday, myself and Edmond attended to city council meeting where Nicholas would propose his motion on supporting our petition. Myself and Ed watched in awe as the whole place went stone silent as Nicholas delivered his piece, something that hadn’t happened all night, as councillors would bicker and chat as others would speak (usual lark!). Various councillors stood and voiced their unanimous support, which left Edmond and myself with a feeling that real change was happening. We talked with representatives from the Echo, Examiner, 96fm, Redfm and the Cork Independent in the days to follow, all of which were eager and willing to support this campaign.
On Thursday last, I had a meeting with Lord Mayor Des Cahill. I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be about and kind of expected it to be a PR stunt, just a quick photo and that was that. I am happy to say I was completely and utterly wrong. I met a man who genuinely cared about the issue. There was no bullshit. We sat down, two bottles of 7up, a pad and pen and tried to figure out how to effectively combat the suicide issue we have in Cork. We talked about our own personal experiences with mental health and I got to know a genuine guy who really wants to help. There was no political agenda. I left there again, for the secnd time that week, feeling like some real change was beginning to happen.
From here, there are two main milestones ahead. The first is this Monday the 5th, the inter-agency forum in City Hall discussing how to combat the suicide crisis in Cork. I’ll be talking at it, and although nervous, am determined to help in any way that I can to battle this. The second milestone, is when we hand, in person, the petition that has been supported by over 5,000 caring people to the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, and also deliver a copy to the Department of Education. I don’t know when this will happen yet but I’ll let ye know!
So that’s the battle so far. I’m still hearing of tragic suicides happening but I always knew this wouldn’t be a quick fix. Some uplifting news is that a school in Carrigaline is introducing a mental health program as a result of all this, as a result of our collective plea for help.
I guess this all stemmed from one thing really. Myself and Edmond didn’t like the way things were playing out, so we decided to try and change the game in any way that we could. It’s too early to say if it’s working, but we can see we’re not the only ones out here trying.
Until next time,