Suicide patrol saves 134 lives in 2015

NewsBy Lynne Kelleher
Suicide patrol saves 134 lives in 2015

A heroic volunteer patrol who stop people from jumping into the River Shannon has recorded a rise in the number of people entering the raging waters to end their own lives.

The patrol – one of only four of its kind in the country – talked 134 people down from ending their lives, or physically restrained them from jumping over the past year.

Mike Mulholland, who is the Chairman of Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrol in Limerick city, said he believes a 24 hour drop-in centre for people feeling suicidal would save lives.

He said: “People aren’t suicidal nine to five. There should be a 24-hour crisis centre here in every city in Ireland. We need something more for the rising number of suicides in Ireland.

“Pieta House closes at six o’clock in the evening, but what if you are in crisis after that? 

There is nowhere for them to go.  

Emergency departments are overwhelmed and people aren’t going to wait for 14 or 15 hours to talk to someone if they are feeling suicidal.

“We had 134 people last year who we had to talk down or physically restrain, which was a rise of five or six on the year before.”

He said the patrol is out for 12 straight nights over the festive season and on four nights a week for the rest of the year, but they can’t save everyone.

“There are people going in to the river at 11, 12 o’clock in the day. We are all working full-time. If we could do 24/7 we would. Unfortunately it is not feasible, but we try our best and it is working to a certain extent,” he said.

He said there were a number of tragic cases in the days before Christmas, with one young woman narrowly escaping drowning in the Shannon.

 “A lady went in three days before Christmas at 3.30pm. Luckily enough there were lads who were rowing and they went over and held her until the rescue boat got her.

“We had one incident on Christmas night. It was someone who was lonely, had no family around them and hates Christmas. The person was fairly intoxicated.

“On New Year’s Eve in 2014 we had seven incidents, but this year we only had one. It was the quietest Christmas period to date with seven people altogether, compared to 18 last year.

“Last year, five out of the seven would have been fully intentional and would have been attempting to climb a wall or jump up on the bridge. It was fairly hairy.”

He said the volunteers have become very tuned in to the signs of suicidal people around the river’s edge.

“When we say hello to a person and ask if they are feeling suicidal, we might be the first person they have spoken to in a week or a few weeks.

“Christmas can be a very lonely time.  People are rushing around getting Christmas presents and often don’t have the time to stop and ask someone how they are. We are all guilty of it.

“A lot of it is money worries. They are dreading having to pay for everything in the New Year. It’s very hard to say no to Santa for any child. ”

Mike said the increase in the numbers of suicidal people they encountered this year shows suicide is still worrying.

“It’s still very prevalent. Blue Monday in February when everybody gets their credit card bills is another really bad time for people.”