Breaking the Cycle of Suicide in Ireland – The Fight Starts Here..

Some of Ireland’s top celebrities including Roz Purcell and Brent Pope, are joining forces to help ‘Break the Cycle’  of suicide in Ireland, by getting involved with Cycle Against Suicide, a  National Suicide Awareness initiative taking place around Ireland from Monday 22nd April to Sunday 5thMay 2013.


The idea behind the project was developed by successful entrepreneur and international businessman Jim Breen, with the objective of raising awareness for the considerable help and supports that are out there for anyone battling depression, at risk of suicide, or those coping with the loss of loved ones due to suicide. Jim came up with the initiative following the screening of a TV documentary ‘The Secret Millionaire’ which showed Jim visiting a suicide awareness group.  The visit had a huge impact on Jim and thousands of viewers and after the show aired he was inundated with many offers of help.  Jim at the time thought “Help with what?”. He wasn’t doing anything!  This started a kernel of an idea, which has germinated over the past few months and now Jim and his team of volunteers, from different counties, countries, backgrounds and age groups who have come together to work on the Cycle Against Suicide project.


Founder and CEO of PulseLearning, Jim Breen said “Everyone has some connection to suicide or depression, and we believe the best way to help fight the battle is to do so together. Mental illness is like any other health issue, it is something we all have to be mindful of, and sometimes ‘minding’ it will involve asking for help.  We want to get people talking about the subject, and play our part in breaking the cycle of suicide and in doing so, decreasing the incidence of suicide in Ireland.”


According to the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), suicide is claiming the lives of at least 500 people each year in Ireland, which is three times higher than the number of deaths on our roads.


Cycle Against Suicide is seen by Jim and the many professionals, friends and supporters as the first joint step in the fight against suicide.


Cycle Against Suicide is being supported by some of the leading professionals in the country dealing with suicide research and prevention.  One such is Dr Ella Arensman, Director of Research at the NSRF.  Dr Arensman has carried out extensive research nationally and internationally and has reviewed best practices in several other countries.  One example of which is an innovative suicide prevention programme which was implemented in Nuremberg in 2001 and 2002, and results showed a 24% reduction in suicidal acts (fatal and non-fatal) in just two years.  This programme was subsequently rolled out in 73 regions in Germany, resulting in a decrease in the national suicide rate by 15.4% between 1999 and 2011.


Working according to this systematic and sustainable approach towards suicide prevention, Cycle Against Suicide hopes to contribute to substantially reduce the number of cases in Ireland over the next number of years.


Jim stated “Our goal is very achievable if we all work together.  The steps are simple, but need buy in from our health care and community based professionals, the government and the general public. Research has shown that 81% of people who take their own lives have met with their GP at least 4 times in the year prior to death.  GPs and front line care professionals need to be supported more with effective and sustainable training on depression, self-harm and suicide intervention and prevention – as well as our first response professionals, i.e. Gardaí, Fire and Ambulance personnel.  As proven in Germany this will lower fatalities.  We also need to normalise the discussion around suicide and mental health. Most importantly we need to make people at risk know that there is help out there – this help is often available literally on their doorstep and our aim is to give them an easy way to access this help.”


Jim continued “We will particularly be reaching out to people who are outside the net, and may not be aware of the supports that are available in their own community. We want people to realise that it’s really OK not to feel OK, and that it’s more than OK to ask for help. Through Cycle Against Suicide, we will create a very tangible and practical way for people who want to help those who are affected by suicide.  Working together, shoulder to shoulder, we really can break the cycle.  Through the Cycle we will be visiting schools, villages, cities and towns, opening up the discussion, making people more aware of the local resources and most important, in advance of our visit, local professionals will be trained in suicide intervention and prevention.  This is just the start of a long road ahead in lowering the rate of suicide in Ireland, but it’s going to be a really strong start.”


Top Irish model Roz Purcell, who will be joining the cyclists during the two week cycle, said “When I heard about the project and just how many people in Ireland are taking their own lives every year, I knew I had to be involved.  Life is so precious. Every day people are dying from diseases we can’t cure but this is something that we can help prevent.”


Rugby Analyst and Journalist, Brent Pope said “In my lifetime seven good friends have died by suicide. The conversation around suicide needs to be de-stigmatised, not brushed under the carpet. We need to bring more understanding, without glamorising the subject. We have to work to make people aware that there are people suffering out there right now and they need help. I applaud Jim and everyone who is trying to do something to break the cycle of suicide.” 


Starting at the Phoenix Park in Dublin, the 1,400km awareness cycle will take its route all around the country, and finish back in Dublin again. The schedule of regional events will see local personalities, as well as suicide prevention and bereavement support experts visiting 26 schools along the way, educating young children to help ‘Break the Cycle’.


Participants can take part in a section of each 100km leg, an entire leg, multiple legs, or even complete the entire cycle. To learn more, get involved or sign up visit . For further news, follow @CASuicide on twitter or visit Facebook.

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