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Dublin: 19 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Irish rugby players given suicide prevention training

Former Munster star Marcus Horan says the reality of professional sport is that athletes must “switch on a persona”.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

USED TO THE rigours of a muddy field, a number of first-team Munster and Connacht players have just taken part in a different type of difficult training.

The rugby stars have participated in suicide prevention programmes over recent weeks.

Run by Console, the training is designed to help Ireland reduce its high suicide rates.

The charity believes suicides can be prevented and hopes to teach people how to “help save a life”.

The Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) has said the first specialised QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training at Munster and Connacht provincial bases were an “unqualified success”.

“A lot of the guys would now be confident in the fact that they may be able to spot the signs of someone in potential crisis,” said former player Marcus Horan.

The thing about professional sport is that no matter what’s going on at home or in your own life, the minute you walk through the doors you have to switch on a persona. It shouldn’t be the case, but, in reality, it is.

“Anyone who has done the course will be going away with a bit more empathy for those around us, and a realisation that maybe there are things going on in a person’s life that mean a quiet chat may be the best thing.

“And that quiet chat may be the most important thing that you can have with a person.”

Sharing his own personal experiences, Horan said his own home village of Clonlara in Clare has “lost a fair few people to suicide over the past 10 years”.

I know that people need to talk when they are touched by this.

“Rugby is very much group-led, and word of this course, and the help available from Console, will spread throughout the game.”

Console provides QPR training, which has been likened to life-saving CPR, to people in all professions.

Helplines:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634

  • Console 1800 201 890

  • Aware 1890 303 302

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

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