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Emergency services staff reach out to people at risk of suicide

The Limerick members of the Fire and Rescue Service, gardaí and ambulance staff will all take part in the training.

EMERGENCY SERVICE PERSONNEL in Limerick are to be trained today in helping people in crisis, including people who are suicidal.

For the first time in Limerick, members of Limerick Fire and Rescue Service, An Garda Síochána, the National Ambulance Service and the Munster Regional Communications Centre (MRCC) will meet to learn about suicide prevention together at a talk hosted by the HSE.


The name of the workshop is safeTALK (suicide alertness for everyone), and it’s also being held as part of an awareness campaign ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.

Paul Knapp of Limerick Fire and Rescue Service explained that SafeTALK “provides participants with the tools and a common language to reach out to a person who is vulnerable, disconnected and potentially at risk of suicide”.

Emergency service workers play a critically important role in suicide prevention in communities throughout Ireland.

Knapp is a firefighter with Limerick fire and rescue services, and said of emergency service personnel: “at different points we will all be called to people in distress”.

This means it is important for them to have a joined-up, consistent approach in dealing with such situations.

Breaking down barriers

Knapp said that the fire service members “are trying to use our position in the community to break down some barriers to say ‘listen you can talk about this, let’s talk about this’.”

While many fire service members go and get training themselves, today is an opportunity for them to meet as a group with other emergency personnel.

We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the resources which give us steps to connect with a person who has suicidal thoughts.
The more people that are trained within the emergency services, it is enabling us to be able to deal and help with people in this position.

The Limerick fire services receive about one call per week to say that someone has entered the water in the county.

“We’ve always had the skills, the tools and the resources. Now it’s more of a cohesive approach,” said Knapp. “What that will enable from any incident point of view is the more people that are aware of what you’re up to and a structured approach if there’s a handover and they realise you are implementing a recognised module.”

He said that “the barriers are starting to come down” when it comes to talking about suicide.

“It affects our own colleagues as well,” he said.

It’s about making sure you can recognise the signs and symptoms. It’s not just about first aid and prevention side of things.
  • safeTALK is funded nationally by the HSE Suicide Prevention Resource Office.
  • To enquire about participating in a local safeTALK workshop contact the Suicide Resource Office, HSE Mid-West on 061-461454, Mon-Thurs 10am-3pm.
  • If you are vulnerable or concerned for someone else, please contact your G.P., Shannondoc, Pieta House 061-484444, Console 1800-247247, Samaritans Free-call 116 123, Childline 1800-666666 or Emergency Services 999/112 for advice and support.

Read: Hearing of Robin Williams suicide ‘pressed little buttons inside’ families all over Ireland>

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