Belfast Telegraph

Minister reveals suicide heartbreak

Health Minister Mary Harney has revealed her devastation after losing a friend to suicide.

Opening a conference on suicide prevention, Ms Harney warned that appearances can be deceiving when it comes to people in crisis.

The Minister told international experts that she first came in contact with the consequences of suicide when she was studying in Trinity.

"A very good friend of mine, a girl who seemed to have everything going for her, took her life," said Ms Harney.

"She was the envy of all of us in Trinity - she was beautiful, an honours student... she took her own life. We were absolutely stunned. I remember being bewildered and devastated at the time."

She added: "You never really know what's going on in someone's life."

More than 500 experts in the field of suicide from across the world attended the Console World Suicide Prevention Day Conference at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

Ms Harney said it was her priority to ensure that services are accessible to all who need it, where they need it, adding that it was essential the stigma around mental illness was removed. "We are not good at talking about mental health in Ireland," she said.

The conference also heard the rate of suicide in young people was alarming.

Professor Fiona McNicholas, a psychiatrist, highlighted that youth suicide is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, including Ireland. The event was followed by a Candelight Vigil on College Green for all who have lost family, colleagues and friends through suicide.

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