Suicide Awareness: Dublin to Belfast


Death is a taboo topic in all cultures but some forms of taboo are more constructive than others.

Social psychologists and cultural commentators are often given to comment on our unhealthy relationship with death at a cultural level, but particularly troubling is the silence that falls over a conversation in the event of a mention of suicide.
Putting aside the debate concerning euthanasia and the right to self-terminate, suicide due to distress or mental illness is an urgent concern in contemporary Ireland. Although, as a country, we have unusually high rates of suicide, especially among young men, there is little in the way of a comprehensive strategy against the problem.

NewsFour spoke with Stephen O’Toole, who has established the action group Suicide Awareness for All. Over the upcoming August bank holiday weekend (the 1st to the 3rd of the month) O’Toole and a number of supporters – a few of whom work with him at the Dylan Hotel, Eastmoreland Place – will take part in a sponsored walk to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and self-harm. The walk will be something of an epic, from Dublin to Belfast.

O’Toole explained that, “about a year and a half ago, I was out of work and went through a rough time where I had contemplated suicide myself. I decided I wanted to do something and took to volunteering with a suicide awareness group.”

His volunteer work led him to establish Suicide Awareness for All Ireland, with the aim of establishing it as a charity, a process which is currently in the works. He took inspiration from, and is grateful for the support of, the charity 3TS (Turn the Tide on Suicide).

Why the walk specifically, NewsFour asked? “The idea for the walk is that Suicide has no borders. It’s an illustration of that. North, South, it doesn’t matter,” O’Toole answers.

The itinerary for the walk is to start out from the GPO on O’Connell Street and arrive at Drogheda United football ground.

Day two will take the hikers over the border to Newry, and on the final day the walk will end at Belfast Town Hall.

The Awareness Walk is part of a larger campaign O’Toole is spearheading called Speak Up – Speak Out, which is on-going.
Readers interested in taking part can reach Stephen O’Toole through

Pictured from left to right , Stephen O’Toole , Janine Buckley and Marcin Worek.

By Rúairí Conneely