GARDAÍ ARE CALLING for officers to have access to professional counselling services after six members of the force died by suicide last year.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), John Jacobs said:
“Six is twice the average for other civil service organisations – last year has thrown the spotlight of the extent of the problem.
“It spans the country – it mightn’t all be work related. You must remember a lot of our people did take significant hits financially.
“It’s not possible to point to a specific set of circumstances, or even a place or an age profile.
In the middle of the night, a station can be a very lonely place. A person can be sitting there on their own and if they have a concern, they don’t have somebody to turn to.
As it stands gardaí do not receive specialist counselling services which are available to other emergency services.
Jacobs described how, “There are in house services, peer support provided by colleagues who would have received informal training on dealing with stressful issues.
“The services that are available are from within the organisation and are only available when people are working.
Another thing is, do you really want to turn to somebody who is your colleague? They’re well meaning but they’re not trained professionals in a strict sense.
Garda representatives have long been campaigning for a 24 hour service seven days a week.
The AGSI pointed out that the Commissioner has failed to deliver a full time service, despite undertaking to provide one at the Annual Delegate Conference last March.
Jacob stressed that he regrets that he has to speak publicly about these matters but added, “We’re calling for a service that is required.
You really need somebody you can turn to who is independent, trained and reliable. We need an on-call service so that members have a go to number.
“We want an on on-call service but we’re not being prescriptive – we’re saying do some research, see what is best practise in other places and implement that.
“As an Association we are deeply worried that people who work in highly stressful conditions are not given access to a professional service. It simply is not good enough.”