World Suicide Prevention Day: Robert shares his story
Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day, a day organised by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented.
AWARE has expressed their concern over the number of young people that have taken their life in Northern Ireland during the first quarter of 2018. Statistics released from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) have shown that of the 80 deaths registered as suicide between January and March 2018, almost half of them were young people aged 15 – 34.
Bernard McAnaney AWARE Chairperson said,
“Unfortunately, the prevalence of mental illness in Northern Ireland is 25% higher than any other region of the UK yet our funding for mental health is significantly lower. As a charity, we are continually fundraising in a bid to increase our service to as many people as possible.
“We are seeing an increase in demand for our services including the AWARE Support Groups and Support Mail service. AWARE Support Groups are free of charge and open to anyone over the age of 18. We have 25 Support Groups based in communities throughout Northern Ireland running on a weekly and fortnightly basis as well as an Online Support Group. Depression can be a very isolating illness and an AWARE Support Group gives people an opportunity to meet others with similar experiences and speak freely about how they are feeling.”
One man who made use of an AWARE Support Group said that without the help of AWARE, he wouldn’t be here today. Robert Davis is a Northern Ireland farmer and suffered with depression for years before he plucked up the courage to seek help. Robert said,
“I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teenager. I coped well with it on and off but in later years I found I couldn’t cope so well. I had a breakdown, was hospitalised, and started seeing a mental health team who put me in touch with AWARE.
"I’ve been attending AWARE Support Groups for eight years. The Support Group has helped me see my own worth and pick up tips on how other people coped with their depression. I do have low times, but that’s normal, and I now know my triggers and the strategies I need to incorporate into my life to help keep myself well.
"It’s hard to ask for help. I can remember the first time I went to an AWARE support group, I sat in the car outside and I watched the people coming in and out, with a sense of shame that I was ill. I don’t have that sense of shame now as I know it’s an illness. I always say that if you had a broken arm you would ask for help - and having an illness such as depression is no different.
"I am a lot happier now thankfully. I’m planning for my future instead of planning for my funeral - that’s how serious it was. Life is good, it’s not 100% but I accept that.”