A MENTAL Health and Suicide Awareness conference will take place in Dungarvan in February – an event which has almost become an annual fixture thanks to the efforts of one local councillor.
From February 19th-20th, the Mental Health and Suicide Awareness conference organised by Fine Gael Cllr Liam Brazil will take place at Dungarvan’s Park Hotel.
Cllr Brazil is a passionate promoter of positive mental health and has been involved with many local and national events aimed at raising awareness of mental health and suicide.
At last week’s plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr Brazil delivered an emotional address in which he urged his fellow councillors to support the upcoming event.
“As we all know, mental health is something which has been pushed away for years. Mental health should be treated like any other illness in society. If mental health goes untreated it often ends in suicide,” he said.
“For every three reported suicides, it’s said that one goes unreported. If you add the figures together you get a figure of 755 people who take their own lives in this country every year. That’s 64 per month, 16 per week. As I’m sitting here, there are three people contemplating taking their own lives. By tomorrow they will be dead by suicide. If this was happening with any other illness in this country there would be uproar.”
Cllr Brazil has personal experience of suicide as his brother James took his own life some years ago.
“To stand at a graveside and see your loved one buried because of suicide is the hardest thing of all time,” he said.
“I know, I was there. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Problems can be dealt with and help is out there.”
His experiences of dealing with suicide prompted him to organise the 2012 Mental Health and Suicide Awareness conference which proved to be a huge success.
He received hugely positive feedback following this conference and staged a similar conference again in 2014.
A wide range of topics relating to mental health and suicide have been discussed at these conferences including the experiences of relatives bereaved by suicide; the importance of positive mental health among young people; the need to remove the stigma surrounding mental health in Ireland; as well as advice on dealing with friends or relatives who may be suffering from mental health issues or feeling suicidal.
In the past, he has spoken of the difficulties his mother faced in coming to terms with his brother’s suicide including the reluctance of people to discuss the issue with her.
In fact, his decision to host the very first conference was in keeping with a promise he made with her to raise awareness of mental health and suicide.
Last April, he organised a 50k charity cycle around Mid-County Waterford in aid of Suicide or Survive which proved to be a resounding success.
He is also a keen supporter of Jim Breen’s ‘Cycle Against Suicide’ initiative.
Now, he hopes to further increase awareness in communities and within homes and is encouraging everyone to support the upcoming conference.
“I’m asking people to come and support this conference. They can talk or they can just sit and listen.”
The conference is free of charge to the public and includes an impressive line-up of speakers including Olympic boxer Kenny Egan, GAA star Alan O’Mara, and representatives from organisations including the Samaritans, Suicide or Survive, and Pieta House.
Cllr Brazil has also welcomed the planning application received by Waterford City & County Council from Pieta House in relation to establishing their long awaited centre in Waterford.
For more information on the upcoming Mental Health and Suicide Awareness conference in Dungarvan call Cllr Liam Brazil on 087-2119203.