Lifeline is all about breaking down barriers

Trish Finegan

Trish Finegan Photo: Pat Moore

The Lifeline Annual Seminar to mark World Suicide Prevention Day held in Butler House on Thursday, heard about the need for a broad range of emotional and wellbeing supports for people with disabilities.

The Lifeline Annual Seminar to mark World Suicide Prevention Day held in Butler House on Thursday, heard about the need for a broad range of emotional and wellbeing supports for people with disabilities.

The seminar also focused on the innovation of creative approaches to breaking down barriers to disability through visual arts and on looking forward to the next phase of implementation of the County Suicide Prevention Plan for Kilkenny; titled 'Our Community, Our Conversation'.

Trish Finegan, Chairperson of the Lifeline County Suicide Prevention Forum said that the seminar highlighted the need of service providers to better appreciate the challenges that people with disabilities face everyday and how this can impact on their mental health.

Mayor of Kilkenny Patrick O'Neill asked for a minute's silence to be observed to remember those lost through suicide.

Brian Hayes of the National Platform for Self Advocates spoke passionately of his own journey through disability and on becoming a voice for others with disabilities and of the need for the education system to better accommodate people with disabilities.

Kathleen Gittens of Kingsriver Community said that when she started in Kingsriver she was quiet and introspective but that through the power of community based education, she had transformed her outlook, opening many career possibilities for her.

Paul Bokslag, an art tutor with KCAT (Kilkenny Collective for Arts Talent), Callan spoke powerfully of the innovative approach used by KCAT and of how many of their artists such as Andrew Pike are now Internationally celebrated.

This was down to the exposure they got through exhibiting and the creative space provided by KCAT. He said the therapeutic values of art are well documented and that KCAT's vision was to break all barriers and labels of disability.

Newly appointed Public Participation Network (PPN) Development Worker, Katherine Peacock encouraged participants at the seminar to join the PPN and become part of new decision making structures in County Kilkenny.

She said that it was the first time that mental health and wellbeing were being given priority in the new Local and Economic Community Plan for the County but that implementation of measures in the plan could only happen if mental health groups became members of the network.

With a focus on the implementation of the next phase of the County Suicide Prevention Plan, the seminar concluded with an appreciation of the work being carried out by Teac Tom, Darkness Into Light, Samaritans, Kilkenny Bereavement Support and others. 'We are fortunate here in Kilkenny that there is so much collaboration between voluntary services, HSE and statutory services. Our next task is to look towards World Mental Health Week and we will be announcing a very exciting programme of activities in that regard over coming weeks' concluded Trish Finegan