CREATING an environment of openness and by trying to address the 'elephant in the room,' Limavady Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide (LIPS) has made great strides locally since its inception 18 months ago.
At the Limavady charity's Annual General Meeting (AGM), held recently in The Roe Park Hotel, the much valued support group outlined the work done since its formation in 2017.
Supporters who attended the AGM heard from speakers Clare Sugden, MLA and Marie Dunne, Mental Health Specialist with Western Trust, who both echoed powerful messages regarding mental health and the importance of communication and support.
Marie spoke about the Trusts ‘Elephant in the Room’ campaign
Moving forward we aim to facilitate the provision of Suicide Awareness training for local youth groups, community leaders, schools and the general public, and would appreciate some local press exposure to generate interest in this and awareness of our group.
Also, speaking at the AGM outgoing Chairman Willie Mulhern outlined the contribution the charity has made to health and well-being, as well as promoting inclusion and acceptance.
Mr Mulhern added that developing skills, encouraging interaction with others and creating a sense of ownership and community were all at the heart of LIPS goal to prevent loss of life by suicide.
The outgoing Chairman issued a thanks to local community groups for support, adding that through press releases, the Facebook page and word of mouth, awareness of the charity and its aims has grown.
The Limavady charity has received generous donations from many groups, businesses and individuals in the area, in addition to funds raised by committee members and local volunteers.
LIPS have also been grateful to be given the opportunity to have a presence at Stendhal music festival in 2017 and again in 2018 with a stand and tree of hope.
A presence at one of Northern Ireland's biggest music festivals enabled the charity to make connections and bring its message to a wider cross section of the community.
With the help of funding from Community Foundation for Northern Ireland LIPS was able to run a number of successful programmes providing fifteen training and support courses, bringing mental health awareness and focus on self-care to approximately 200 people from the Limavady area.
One such course called ‘Connections Help Life’ provided training for 23 Stendhal 2018 volunteers and members of the community on mental health, suicide awareness and intervention.
LIPS has also provided individual counselling sessions to those in crisis, and have funded six sessions for 10 people.
In the coming year LIPS aims is to provide further suicide awareness training, targeting youth groups and those in support roles, and plan to continue to work closely and support local community groups in order to raise the profile of suicide prevention within the wider community.
New Chairman Sam Barr whose son Jamie died by suicide said: “I am very glad to appointed Chair of LIPS.
“We have really come a long way in 18 months and I hope to maintain that growth and keep moving the charity forward.
“This is something extremely important to me and I hope people will join me in progressing the charity and raising awareness of these issues in the area.
“It is great to see so many people attend the AGM and it was great to hear Claire and Marie speak about the importance of LIPS.”
For more information on the great work of the valuable local charity, or if you need help and advice, follow LIPS on Facebook. If you are in need of help call - LIFELINE: 0808 808 8000