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Foyle Search and Rescue charity fears river suicide bids may rise because of coronavirus and warns of lack of funds


Pat Carlin

Pat Carlin


Pat Carlin

A river rescue charity has warned of a potential surge in suicide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pat Carlin from Foyle Search and Rescue said that while there was a decrease in the number of call-outs to the river during the early stages of the lockdown, this is already changing.

Over a 24-hour period last week, volunteers from the charity successfully brought two people from the river to safety, but the number of cases is on the rise.

Mr Carlin said: "The number of our call-outs have reduced because the lockdown has meant the footfall has reduced, but even during these past few days there has been an increase.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

"Our concern is that when lockdown is lifted, there is going to be a massive, massive surge of people and I am worried that we are going to be busy."

Mr Carlin said the pandemic has brought additional stresses to the charity.

These include the added risk of volunteers contracting coronavirus and a significant fall in the charity's finances.

Mr Carlin said: "Since we went into lockdown we have missed out on around £50,000 approximately.

"Our annual bucket collection should be on now, which usually will bring us much-needed funds.

"We also get around £3,000 a month from collection boxes in shops so we have been badly affected financially because the vast majority of our funding comes from public donations.

"We are still active, although our duty nights have had to be curtailed.

"But our pagers are still on 24 hours a day and we are still responding to call-outs," Mr Carlin added.

"A big problem for us is protecting our volunteers because we cannot social distance if we are taking someone from the river or the railings.

"All we can do is wear our PPE and do the best we can, but when you are dealing with a person with mental health issues, it can be difficult."

If you are in distress and need someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000