A special ceremony will take place on the steps of St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda next week to mark the annual remembrance of World Suicide Prevention Day and to create continued awareness around mental health.
Jackie Fox, the mother of Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox, a young woman who took her own life, aged just 21 following constant online bullying and abuse, will address the assembled crowd.
World Suicide Prevention Day’ is observed each year to promote worldwide action to prevent suicides. Next Thursday, September 10, a small ceremony will take place on the steps of St. Peter’s Church on West Street, as a display of 500 pairs of shoes will line the steps of St. Peter’s Church in memory of lost loved ones.
A remembrance candle will also be lit outside the church and a specially commissioned flag will be raised to commemorate the occasion. A one minute reflective silence will also take place as the bells toll at 12pm before Jackie Fox will speak from the steps to highlight how her daughter was bullied and harassed for two years before eventually taking her own life.
2020 marks the fourth straight year that Drogheda has marked World Suicide Prevention Day with such an event. “People are welcome to attend and we are asking please to be mindful of social distancing and mask wearing,” Cllr Declan Power said.
“There will be lots of people on West Street at that time and we are asking people to stop, reflect and to think of somebody they know that has taken their own life. This year has been particularly a tough and challenging one for all of us. Sometimes we just have to press the ‘pause’ button and hit the ‘Reset’ button when we feel that life is getting us down,” he said.
Various events and activities are held during this year to raise awareness and to remember loved ones who have passed on by suicide.
According to World Health Organisation, nearly 3000 people on average take their own life daily, with another 20 or more attempting to end their lives for every one that succeeds. About one million people die by suicide each year.
“This is our way of remembering loved ones that have taken their own lives prematurely,” Cllr Power continued. “Unfortunately, the statistics are alarming with 1,156 people in Ireland taking their own lives in the last three years – 909 male and 247 female. In 2012, an incredible 578 people took their own lives – 471 male and 107 female.”
The Independent councillor says he is calling on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to create a Suicide Prevention taskforce.
“I’m calling on the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly to address the under funded mental health cervices in this country by creating a task force on suicide prevention that includes an action plan to improve the nation’s understanding and attitudes towards suicidal behaviour, mental health and wellbeing and also to support local communities’ capacity to prevent and respond to suicidal behaviour.”
Last month, Cllr Power had a motion unanimously passed which asked for the local authority to write to government with the purpose of conveying the importance of the proposed Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, known to some as ‘Coco’s Law’.
The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 seeks to modernise existing harassment laws to cover modern technology and social media and comes on the back of recommendations in the Law Reform Commission’s report on Harmful Communications and Digital Strategy.
Suicide can be influenced by psycho-social, cultural and environmental risk factors that can be prevented through worldwide responses that address these main risk factors. There is strong evidence indicating that adequate prevention can reduce suicide rates.