Cobh Marks 10 Years of Breaking The Silence

Filed under: Local News |

“Cork has the highest rate of Suicide Prevention Training completed in Ireland. In the last 10 years 15,000 people have been trained and over half of this training has been delivered by Breaking The Silence”. Helena Cogan, Suicide Resource Officer for Cork & Kerry, HSE

With World Suicide Prevention Day taking place on 10th September it was timely for the town of Cobh to gather as a Community last Friday night to mark the Ten Year Anniversary of Breaking The Silence. The unique surrounds of Cobh Heritage Centre proved to be the perfect location to both celebrate this milestone and listen to a diverse range of very interesting Speakers. Senator Joan Freeman started the evening by sharing how the heart-breaking loss of her sister Catherine to Suicide inspired her creation of Pieta House. She was followed by Nessa Barrett who works as a Social Care Leader with Tusla (The Child & Family Agency) supporting many Community Projects, describing the very active partnership between Caring for Carrigtwohill and Breaking The Silence. Tim Murphy, Safety Advisor with BMD (Mechanical Company) outlined the proactive response BMD drove in response to the loss of their colleague to Suicide with the roll out of numerous Mental Health Talks across their many sites by Breaking The Silence. This work was completed in conjunction with other wellbeing initiatives including BMD being the first company of their kind in Ireland to put an Employee Assistance Programme in place for their employees (they were recognised for doing this by the Construction Industry Federation).

Principal Anthony Keneally of Scoil Iosaef Naofa was our next speaker. A passionate advocate of Health & Wellbeing, including Mental Health, Anthony spoke very honestly about the very important role we all have to play in encouraging young people to talk, to ensure we listen when they do talk and to actively support them in building their resilience to deal with life’s challenges. Our final speaker of the evening was Helena Cogan, Suicide Resource Officer for Cork & Kerry with the HSE. We work on a very active basis with Helena and her equally brilliant colleague Mags Creed. Helena testified to the power of the community approach in her positive feedback with her quote from the evening “Cork has the highest rate of Suicide Prevention Training completed in Ireland. In the last 10 years 15,000 people have been trained and over half of this training has been delivered by Breaking The Silence”.

Before and after our Speakers we were treated to the wonderful music of Romanza Guitar Duo; the very talented Lisa Skidmore and Hugh Dillon. To conclude the evening we enjoyed a fabulous spread of refreshments prepared by Corcoran’s Centra, and served on the evening by Alan and Aileen. Gavin & Noel from Carry Out Off License provided the drinks which were served by Ross & Keith Donnachie. Jack Walsh, Manager of Cobh Heritage Centre worked tirelessly to ensure we had everything we needed at each critical stage of this occasion. As always we had the fantastic support of Great Island Community Newsletter and Cobh Edition, plus representatives from The East Cork Journal and Red FM were also in attendance. Local Photographer Eddie Lalor took the photographs, Eddie has been very kind to the group including developing a book of his photos for Breaking The Silence. Louise O’Connor (Lou Lou’s World) helped in decorating the venue in a symbolic way to mark this occasion, and Jason Gleeson kindly provided the sound system.

The Darkness into Light Committee (separate committee to Breaking The Silence) presented the cheque of the massively successful Cobh Darkness into Light Walk proceeds to Joan Freeman, a very impressive €29,222. The team of 23 fearless Sky Divers also presented their cheque raising over €6,000, proceeds going to both the Baby Kate Fundraising Project and Breaking The Silence.

Thanked on the night were the incredible group who founded Breaking The Silence in 2007, supported by the passionate Former Justice Michael Pattwell, the very dedicated previous and current group committee members, and the massively active Training Team who deliver Suicide Prevention Training on behalf of the group (and it is important to mention that the background support of all of the families and friends has been critical to all of this work). Recognised for their invaluable support were Cobh Family Resource Centre (in particular their Low Cost Counselling Service), Cobh (Great Island) Community Centre, Cobh Gardaí plus Sr Emmanuel and the previous employees of Cobh Convent of Mercy who so generously helped when many courses were delivered at the Convent of the years. Fergie Cunningham was mentioned also as being one of the first regular fundraisers for the group. We are very fortunate to have the on-going support of many key sponsors including Cobh Lions Club, Titanic Bar & Grill, The Ballynoe Inn and Cork International Hotel, Cork Airport Hotel and the Metropole Hotel. The Former Cork Senior GAA Football Team have acted as Ambassadors for our group on many occasions, most especially Graham Canty and Alan Quirke. Each year we place remembrance trees at Coral Leisure Centre, Keatings Londis and SuperValu and we are grateful for their support in facilitating this and to Mrs. Maureen Tobin who reminds us each year!

The group is the beneficiary of regular annual fundraisers such as Sky Dive for Life organised by Dave Campbell and the FIFA Tournament organised by the Smith Family. In addition to this there are many people in our local town and beyond who have so generously supported us over the years, either organising a fundraiser or attending an event, they are far too many to mention however please know that the support you gave has without a doubt made a difference. All monies raised go directly towards providing FREE Suicide Intervention & Prevention Training Programmes.

Finally as always we post details of our upcoming training programmes on our facebook page “Breaking The Silence Cobh” we do hope we see you at a future training session, previous participants have always told us that they get a lot from the training, and how helpful it is to support somebody not just with thoughts of suicide but also those under pressure with their mental health.