A MONTH-long drive to encourage the prevention of suicide is underway.

The campaign is part of the Toward Zero Suicide project which has taken the theme ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ for the drive which lasts until October 10.

Toward Zero Suicide aims to reduce suicide in Northern Ireland by running projects. These are supported by the South Eastern Health Trust, which was the first Trust to become an active participant in the project.

The Trust believes that this year’s theme acts as a reminder that there is always an alternative to suicide and care can be offered to those who need it. By using what the Trust describes as evidence-based research and practice, the scheme aims to create a care pathway journey and network of safety to those with thoughts of suicide.

Peer support worker, Fiona O’Kane, believes anyone who voices thoughts of suicide must be taken seriously. “We all have a part to play, sometimes people who are having suicidal thoughts do not have the power or ability to reach out,” she said. “If someone tells you that they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, always take them seriously. “You do not have to be an expert, all you have to do is listen and be nonjudgemental. Show the person reaching out compassion and empathy to help them understand that there is always help and always hope” Ms O’Kane stated.

Training is offered by the Zero Suicide Alliance to those who wish to help in the scheme. Peer tutor at Towards Zero Suicide, Alan Dagg, explains the value of the project and training. “As a person with lived experience, this training has inspired hope in me and has improved my confidence and competence in supporting others in crisis” he said.

Towards Zero Suicide training is offered to anyone who wished to help at The South Eastern Trust’s Recovery College also offers courses on mental health and recovery, which can be accessed at Samaritans can be contacted on 028 9066 4422 or on 116 123.