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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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A late-night centre for people contemplating suicide and self-harm will soon be set up in Limerick city

The Haven Hub should open within the next month in Limerick city.

The support service aims to be open from 8pm to 4am.
The support service aims to be open from 8pm to 4am.
Image: Shutterstock/ub-foto

A NEW SERVICE to make information about preventing suicide and self-harm available late at night will be established within the next month in Limerick city.

Limerick city has the highest rates for female self-harm and the second highest for males, according to a 2018 report from the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF). It also has the second highest rates of female suicide and ninth highest for men, according to Central Statistics Office data from 2014 to 2016. 

Although many services are available for people seeking help in the city during the day, founder of the Haven Hub Leona O’Callaghan said there are no late-night services other than A&E. 

The peak time for self-harm last year was 11pm in Ireland, according to the NSRF. Almost half of presentations to services in 2018 were made between 7pm and 3am across the country. 

The Haven Hub will be open in the Social Service Centre on Henry Street in Limerick city from 8pm to 4am and will be staffed by trained volunteers. It will be a place for people contemplating suicide or having thoughts about self-harm to go for support and to receive information on the local services available to them. 

It would also act as a place for suicide patrol teams to bring anyone they find in distress by the river. 

Leona O’Callaghan said the service plans to eventually open seven days a week. For the moment, it is planned to open from 8pm to 4am but the days are not yet certain.  

“I came out the other end of recovery and I’ve been in that place. Thankfully, I’m out of it now,” O’Callaghan told TheJournal.ie. 

“I’m lucky to have been helped by some of the great services in Limerick… But some people weren’t so lucky to get a second chance.

“The message many people believe is that they can’t be helped, but this isn’t true.”

The organisation will be run on a voluntary basis for the beginning, but O’Callaghan hopes they will be able to hire some full-time, professional staff members to the service in the future.   

Other organisations and people involved in the Haven Hub include the Samaritans, Limerick Mental Heath Association, Treaty Suicide Prevention, representatives of families affected by suicide, and local councillors.  

“Volunteers will have professional training to be able to give people all the proper supports,” said O’Callaghan. 

“There is so much to avail of here in terms of services during the day, but people don’t know in the evening what is actually available to them because nowhere is open.

“Nowhere is open after 10pm except for A & E,” said O’Callaghan. “I’m not saying this is an alternative to the emergency services because it isn’t, but it is a place where people can look for some hope.”

“We need a positive message and to have a place to show that help is available,” she said. 

Future plans 

Local Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe said the service is a “fantastic concept” and said work in this area has fallen through the cracks for a long time. 

Costelloe called on Limerick City and County Council to convene a multi-agency task force to respond to mental health and suicide issues in Limerick last month. 

Sinn Féin TD for Limerick City Maurice Quinlivan has also been involved in the organisation as it prepares to open in the coming weeks. 

“We believe the main problem is there is nowhere to go other than the emergency services late at night,” Quinlivan said.

He added that the plan is to create a place people can “pop in and sit down” if they need to talk or receive some information.

“It’s really coming from the communities themselves, they are frustrated with the perceived lack of services due to the limited opening hours,” he added. 

Need help? Support is available:

  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 18)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s) 

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