I wonder if there is a family in Ireland that has not been touched by suicide? I somehow doubt it.
Today, though, I was fortunate enough to witness the other side of suicide ~ the support, solidarity and openness that can be associated with what was once an absolute taboo subject in this country.
My nephew, Matthew, is taking part in this year’s Cycle Against Suicide which is aimed at raising awareness of the considerable help and supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self-harm, at risk of suicide, or those bereaved by suicide.
It is a cycle around the island of Ireland and today was Day 3 of 14, with the route taking the riders from Waterford to Cork City.
I’m so glad that Matthew stayed with us last night. Yes, he was tired but it was only this morning that I realised why he wasn’t absolutely exhausted after yesterday’s long haul and the prospect of 120 kilometers today.
Part of the Cycle Against Suicide involves presentations in schools along the way and this morning the venue was De la Salle College in Waterford. Pupils from neigbouring schools, cyclists, organisers, and odds and sods like me filled the sports hall and heard people talk openly about mental health issues and how we all need a helping hand to get us up the hills of life and shouldn’t hesitate to ask for it.
I was completely taken by a moment when the school pupils were urged to repeat the words: I am lovely; I am lovable; I am loved. There was hesitancy at the start but gradually the communal voice got louder and more assertive. How far we have come from my school days in the 1970!
The hundreds of cyclists left Waterford as a surge of orange blazing through the thick drizzle. Their unity was palpable and I’d be amazed if anyone who heard the presentation and witnessed the incredible camaraderie will ever, ever forget it.
awareness of the considerable help and supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self harm, at risk of depression, self harm, at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.