The annual Cycle Against Suicide Student Leader’s Congress is set for the University of Limerick Arena on the 18th and 19th January, the first time the event has taken place outside Dublin.
The event, which attract over 6,000 second level students and teachers, aims to promote positive mental health and help-seeking behaviour in young people. 2017 will see the fifth annual event with this year’s Congress fully booked out.
The aim of the Student Leaders’ Congress is to promote positive mental health, help-seeking behaviour in young people, and the Cycle Against Suicide message that ‘It’s ok not to feel ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help’.
The Congress brings together young adults and teachers from all over the island of Ireland in an inspiring and energetic forum comprising celebrity speakers, live entertainment, discussion and much more.
Very much a student-led event, a large portion of the day involves students: discussing projects they have engaged with, providing entertainment, conducting peer interviews and interacting with a range of mental health organisations exhibiting on the day.
Suicide is claiming the lives of at least 800 people each year on the island of Ireland. This includes fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, best friends and colleagues.
Cycle Against Suicide is an initiative started by Irish entrepreneur, Jim Breen, as a result of his appearance on RTE’s The Secret Millionaire programme. The main objective of the Cycle is to raise awareness of the considerable help and supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self-harm, at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.
The 2017 Cycle will take place between Sunday, April 23rd and Saturday, May 6th, 2017.
The December launch of the Student Leader’s Congress was supported by a group of ambassadors who showcased the best of the region. There was a sporting theme as All-Ireland winning Tipperary hurler Noel McGrath, Ireland women’s rugby Grand Slam winner and refereeing pioneer Joy Neville and Munster rugby players Mike Sherry and Duncan Casey gave their support.
Representing the schools were students Robyn Cleary, Isabelle Luff, Clodagh Harrington and Ciara Koenig from Villiers School in Limerick, along with the school’s chaplain and counsellor Jackie McNair.
Also in attendance were staff of the University of Limerick including Deputy Admissions Officer Joachim Barnett and the Students’ Union were represented by President Sarah Dunphy and Academic Officer Donal Foley.
Cycle Against Suicide CEO Paul McBride explained, “Our vision as a movement is together to create a society where it’s OK not to feel OK; and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help. Events such as the Congress offer a significant opportunity to normalise the conversation around mental health.”
Mr. McBride continued: “We are thrilled to bring the Student Leaders Congress to the University of Limerick in 2017 reaching more schools and more students than ever before. The Congress is the jewel in the crown of our Schools’ Programme and provides a unique platform for schools to showcase the incredible work that is going on at local level and celebrates innovation and good practice in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing.”
Here are some highlights from the 2016 Student Leaders’ Congress