Appeal to ‘speak out’ for suicide prevention

Do you have what it takes to be a Samaritans Volunteer?'(pic submitted)
Do you have what it takes to be a Samaritans Volunteer?'(pic submitted)

The Director of Ballymena Samaritans has described the number of deaths by suicide in each of the province’s Council areas, including Mid & East Antrim, over the last three years, as “a worry”.

Branch Director Jacquie’s comment was in relation to statistics on suicide deaths in Northern Ireland’s 11 local authority areas from 2016-2018, sourced by Ballymena Samaritans from the NI Statistical and Research Agency.

The stats revealed that in 2018 there were 23 registered deaths by suicide in both Mid & East Antrim (MEA) and Antrim & Newtownabbey Council (ANBC) areas, compared to 14 in 2017 in ANBC and 24 the same year in MEA.

Jacquie said: “Samaritans aim is to prevent suicide by offering a listening ear, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We also welcome and hope to engage with the NI Executive’s proposed Mental Health Initiative.

“The number of deaths by suicide in each Council area, over the last three years, is a worry. Hopefully, the increased focus on suicide prevention will reduce the number of deaths by suicide. I would encourage everyone to talk about their mental health. Everyone needs someone to talk to, could you be that person?”

So what does it take to volunteer with Samaritans?

Qualifications are not a requirement – life experience and the ability to listen without judging are more important. Your commitment would be just a few hours a week. You need to be over 18, but there is no upper age limit. Comprehensive training is provided and ongoing support and mentoring is always available. You also learn to listen more and comment less – 2 ears – 1 mouth.

Ongoing support is given within the branch from the other volunteers and the Director.

If you think that you are able to offer a commitment as a Samaritans volunteer, Ballymena branch would love to hear from you and can be contacted on on 028 2565 0000 (Monday to Sunday between 4-10pm).