Once again, Mary McAleese reminds us that as outgoing President of the RoI, she’ll be a hard act to follow. In this piece in the Belfast Telegraph, McAleese laments the toll that suicide has on families and society at large. She goes on to comment that:
“Mental ill-health and suicide have been with us in good times and in bad but these difficult economic times undoubtedly increase the strain on individuals and families as unemployment and indebtedness take their toll”.
“They make it all the more imperative that we do all that we can to reduce the suicide rate, reduce the unnecessary waste of human life, reduce the awful legacy of grief for the bereaved and reduce the awful, overwhelming misery of a life that feels compelled to contemplate suicide.”
Sadly, mental health issues are not taken seriously in all quarters of society; I sense that this is particularly the case here in Northern Ireland.
One of the most devastating responses a suicidal person can receive when they take the enormous step of reaching out to friends or employers for help is to be ignored. We all have a responsibility to be more aware of the emotional well-being of those around us.
Depressive illnesses are real and their individual and societal impact is exacerbated by ignorance and misunderstanding. My own painful personal experiences have borne this out. That is why we need more people like Mary McAleese to publicly discuss, ‘de-mystify’ and de-stigmatize suicide and mental ill-health. It really can, and does, make a difference; in fact, it can be literally life-saving.