Latest figures released by the HSE this week show that Men accounted for almost 80 per cent of the suicides recorded in the State last year, with Limerick city seeing the highest levels of suicide.
The sound of a low flying helicopter over Limerick city is one that puts shivers up the back of anyone with a social conscience. Since the demise of the Celtic Tiger the all too familiar chopping sounds of the spinning rotors have become synonymous with suicide and mental health in our city.
Thankfully the days when issues such a suicide were considered a stigma in Irish society have come to an end. So much so that Limerick is now leading the way in tackling this demon of modern times and it is our younger generation who are showing us the way.
Two things happened recently that highlighted just how proactive the Limerick psyche is at tackling suicide and mental health issue.
In the first instance, we saw former Mr World, Limerickman Kamal Ibrahim release a powerful and beautifully made short movie entitled ‘If Only’. The movie was produced, written and directed by Ibrahim who worked closely with Navan-based psychotherapist Melissa Carroll.
‘If Only’ was produced to continue the mission of raising the awareness of mental health issues in Ireland with an aim to direct the public and those in need of help to organisations who are providing help and support in that area.
Ibrahim’s film has also received the full support of mental health organizations Aware and Samaritans. Since launching the movie just a few days ago the piece has been viewed online over 15,000 times.
Speaking after the launch of the short film, Ibrahim told me: “We talk about depression and we talk about suicide but this film is really about the power of intervention.
“Depression isn’t a weakness, if fact, these challenges in life that make us depressed ultimately help make us stronger. We must persevere to find our strength in the blackness of our lowest point.”
Kamal spoke publicly about his own experiences with mental health on the Claire Byrne show in 2015 and continues to contribute his time to organizations working in that space.
Then we saw the release of an eagerly awaited new Rubberbandits song and video. There was no official launch; no fanfare. Just a simple tweet and Facebook post saying: ‘New song’.
As might be expected with a new Rubberbandits video, it has started to trend and is touching on approximately 80,000 views in the short 24 hours since its release.
What is different this time is that the whimsical comedy banter, for which the duo have become known, has been side-lined in favour of a powerful piece of lyrical prose, striking imagery and an anguished beat that somehow reflects the inner turmoil of its subjects.
The ominous sounds of the helicopter rotors whirring in the skies above Limerick have, for too long, become a soundtrack for our city. Now, our younger generations are creating new sounds, new images and a new dialogue to tackle suicide and mental health issues head one.
They are the sounds we now need to listen to.