39 suicides in Antrim during past six years

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A TOTAL of thirty nine people took their own lives in Antrim in the past six years and with these figures in mind, local Samaritans representatives are reminding people that they are there to provide support.

Eight people took their own lives in 2011 compared to six the year before.

The stark statistics are revealed in the provisional data supplied by Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency (NISRA), which remains provisional until the publication of the 2011 Annual Report of the Registrar General which was due to be released in November 2012. According to recent figures from NISRA in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2012 there have been 68 and 84 deaths registered as suicide in Northern Ireland.

Margaret Black, the Director of Ballymena Samaritans, said: “Men, in particular, can find it very difficult to seek support or talk about their feelings. People who call Samaritans often say that they feel they can’t talk to anyone else even though they may have caring family and friends. They feel that they are a burden or they don’t want to worry family and friends.

“Sometimes callers have found others are too close or too quick to offer advice or tell them what to do and this has meant that they don’t feel that they are really listened too or understood.”

“The first step is always the hardest. Sometimes talking to someone you don’t know is easier than talking to family or friends. Sharing your troubles with someone who gives time and attention and who tries to see things from your point of view can be a relief and a comfort. Samaritans support is time-limitless and can help you find your way; your way.

“Samaritans do not offer a “magic fix” or a “crazy formula” – we just sit around and chat about what is worrying you in the hope that a listening ear will help you work through your problems.

If you’re worried about someone close to you, there are a number of signs that you can watch out for.

Signs to look out for include someone:

Being withdrawn or unsociable

Being low-spirited or depressed

Drinking alcohol excessively or becoming dependent on drugs

Finding it difficult to relate to others

Taking less care of themselves

Acting out of character

Being tearful or constantly fighting back tears

Being excessively irritable

Finding it hard to concentrate

Feeling less energetic or particularly tired

Eating much less or much more than usual

Putting themselves down (self-mockingly as well as seriously), e.g. “Nobody loves me” or “I’m a waste of space”.

The current economic climate means that thousands more people are feeling the stress of money worries, unemployment, relationship problems, losing their homes which can lead to feelings of despair and isolation. The demands on the service continue to grow. Samaritans does not receive statutory funding. The Ballymena branch depends 100% on the generosity of individuals, trusts and companies to fund the service.

During the next 3 years the Branch will be renovating the premises at 45 Mount Street in Ballymena in order to make the building fit for purpose and to provide disability access. This will be a major undertaking in this difficult financial climate. Samaritans’ vision is for a society where fewer people die by suicide because people are able to share feelings of emotional distress openly without fear of being judged.

Samaritans believe that offering people the opportunity to be listened to in confidence, and accepted without prejudice, can alleviate despair and suicidal feelings.

If you would like to find out more about the service provided by Samaritans or if you would like a representative to come to your group or school please get in touch. Talks are tailored to suit different groups and ages. Contact the Ballymena branch on 028 2565 0000 daily between 4.00pm and 10.00pm or e-mail ballymena@samaritans.org for more information.

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