Case Study on SOSAD Navan
SOSAD Navan is based in bright, welcoming house on the outside of the town. Every caller is welcomed by a friendly face and a cup of tea as soon as they step inside the door. This informal setting helps create a safe environment for people who are at risk of suicide to come and get help and support.
The Navan branch of the organisation was set up in 2009 and is supported by Meath Volunteer Centre. They currently provide free professional counselling to over 25 clients, and phone line support to over 90 individuals. ‘We have clients from all age groups and walks of life with a range of different difficulties and worries. That’s the thing about depression – it’s across the board and it can affect anybody at anytime so it’s so important that everyone is aware of the signs.’
Marie Johnson spoke about why she set up the branch in Navan. ‘I lost my 17 year old son Brian to suicide on the 7th of September 2008. When it happened I couldn’t find anywhere to go. I was completely overwhelmed by his death and then had this terrible fear for my family and his friends’. She explained that people who have been bereaved by suicide are significantly more at risk that those who haven’t experienced it. ‘I wanted to do something positive in his memory. I met with Peter Moroney from SOSAD Drogheda in January 09 about setting up a sister branch in Navan. We had the launch in March secured the house in September, and it’s just gone from strength to strength since then.
In the last year, cases of suicide have increased by 25% with an average of 2 people dying each day by suicide. SOSAD has seen the profile of their clients changing since the recession. ‘We now have clients coming to us who are experiencing serious financial difficulties, men who have worked all their lives to build up their own business and now they are left with nothing. It’s not just that they can’t pay the ESB bill – they can’t afford to buy food! That’s how serious it is.’
Marie urges volunteers to get involved ‘I’d say just come and give it a try – it’s not all doom and gloom! It’s wonderful to see the difference you can make to someone’s life by just having a cup of tea and a chat. It is a great comfort to those at risk of suicide to know that there is always someone at the end of the phone – even if they don’t ring us, it can sometimes be enough for them to know that we are here if they need us’.
Carmel is a volunteer who has been with SOSAD from the start, she explains what SOSAD means to her. ‘I remember on my birthday last year we were called out to an emergency call at 2am. We spent the rest of the night in the A&E in Navan and by the time I got home I was totally exhausted. Marie sent me a message when I got home saying ‘I know this wasn’t how you hoped to spend your birthday – but think that you probably saved a life tonight.’