Mayor acts after suicides

Dr Arthur Cassidy
Dr Arthur Cassidy

An increase in suicides in the Craigavon area has prompted the Mayor of Craigavon to organise an evening to raise awareness of mental health.

Councillor Mark Baxter said the event on Thursday, January 30, would bring together experts and “extend a helping hand to those who may need information and assistance”.

A story in a recent issue of the Portadown Times revealed there were 12 victims of suicide in the greater Craigavon area in a month, the latest of that number being a father-of-three from the Gilford Road area of Portadown.

Craigavon now occupies third place in Northern Ireland for suicides behind Belfast and Londonderry.

The stark figures also prompted a response from DUP councillor Darryn Causby who said he was “stunned” to learn of the number of suicides.

In a letter printed in this week’s issue he said he had been moved to write in the hope that those who suffer with mental ill-health realise they are not alone and encouraged people to seek support.

He revealed, “I have a close family member who has suffered severe depression since 2001 and to this day they still struggle daily with mental ill-health. The fact that I and my family deal with someone daily who suffers with depression doesn’t make us experts but it has helped give us an understanding of the difficulties and struggles faced by those who do.

“If it had not have been for the help provided to my loved one in their time of need I dare not think of what might have happened.”

Speakers on the night will include leading psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy, with professional advice, guidance and experience available, while other speakers will talk about their own experiences of mental health issues.

Cyber bullying will also be on the agenda with a talk by local MP David Simpson followed by a sketch by Moyraverty Arts and Drama group.

“Mental health and suicide awareness are extremely sensitive and emotive issues and I know we have a great network of agencies doing excellent work within the Craigavon area,” said Mr Baxter.

“By bringing together all these agencies for this event I sincerely hope we can continue to raise awareness of these difficult issues and offer help to those who need it most.”