herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

Debtline to deal with suicide risk callers

Workers from money advice service MABS and Social Welfare are being trained to deal with clients at risk of suicide during the recession.

The employees, who deal with unemployed people who have growing money worries, are being taught to identify people who are having thoughts of suicide.

Anne Callanan from the National Office of Suicide Prevention said: "In response to the difficulties we have put a focus on workers in MABS, Citizens Information and social welfare. We're making ASIST available to those staff."



Reduced

The ASIST programme provides "first aid help" to people, by teaching them to intervene until the immediate risk of suicide is reduced, or additional help has been found.

"The ASIST programme is always full," said Anne. "But there is an increased demand."

It is estimated that up to 2,000 people have done the ASIST course so far this year throughout the country, at locations including Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Louth.

"The sites are scheduling at least one extra workshop per month," said Anne.

"The aim is that people will be able to help someone through a crisis, and link them through the immediate crisis."

A spokesperson for MABS said: "We've training in place for MABS staff and support for staff who come across difficult situations."

Caroline Lennon Nally, from Dublin North, said: "They're not afraid to put the question out there for fear of putting it into their head. They then know what to do if the person says 'yes, I am suicidal.'



Request

"If someone has gone to ASIST, they'll have contact numbers of agencies in the area that can help. For the last two years we work very much with agencies or communities that identify a request."

Since January, five courses have been run in north Dublin stretching from Blanchardstown to Darndale, reaching 170 people so far.

"It demystifies the concerns people would have in talking about suicide. It helps people to be comfortable about talking about it," said Caroline.

"The feedback has been really positive. We're doing an all-island evaluation at the moment to see how it's worked. The Health Promotion Agency in the North have been commissioned to do it."

hnews@herald.ie

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