The city facing a “tsunami” of young suicides

Matt Collins (centre) with Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention Patrol members Ronald Collins, Sabatino Fratarolie, Josephine Corbett, David Toomey, Ellen Duffy, Pat Clohessy and Frances Collins

“WE HAVE a tsunami of suicides. We have a rush of young people waiting to kill themselves and no one wants to talk about it.

That was the bleak picture painted by Limerick Treaty Suicide Patrol’s (LTSP) Matt Collins, who told the Limerick Post he recently met eleven people in three nights who were ready to end it all.

Having taken it upon himself to start driving Limerick’s bridges and secondary roads during the day, Matt discovered that there was now a need for a daytime patrol, which the group plans to start.

“We had a young girl about 18 the other night who jumped into the river while we were trying to talk her out of it. She was begging us to turn our faces away so she could jump,” Matt said.

Matt and the LTSP patrol members called emergency services and the girl was rescued. Others weren’t so lucky and Matt is angry that “it’s not being talked about suicide”.

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“If people think it’s not a problem, ask the families of these dead children. We meet people as young as 14 by the river. There are huge problems, even with those who are not suicidal.

“We had to track down a family member to bring a 12-year-old boy home last week. He was dead drunk and told us he had been drinking since he was 10 years old. He’s a 12-year-old alcoholic.

Even when there is a response, Matt says patrol members see evidence that the availability of follow-up help is “appalling”.

“You send people to the hospital and then they’re back here (at the river). I don’t know what criteria they have to meet to be welcomed and helped.

The alternative to sending a suicidal person to the hospital, Matt says, is to call the Gardaí and have them arrested and detained for their own safety.

“Or a third, more humane way would be to have a place where they can be welcomed and talked to until a family member can come and claim them.”

To this end, and to have a place for storing the equipment, LTSP calls on a person with a room near the river to give it space to put in a metal container from which it can operate.

“We have to store things, which costs us money every month,” he said.

“We have around 40 people trained and we have eight new volunteers coming in, but they have to have professional training and that costs money,” Matt said.

While LTSP is always looking for more volunteers for their night patrols, they are also looking for people who could spend two hours patrolling during daylight hours.

“I met a man on my daytime rounds who told me ‘people don’t just kill each other at night you know’ and he was right. You need a daytime patrol.

Anyone over the age of 25 who would like more information on volunteering should log on to the LTSP website and provide their contact details.

Readers who may be affected by the issues depicted in this article or experiencing mental well-being issues can contact the Samaritans free of charge on 116 123.

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