Belfast Telegraph

Cave Hill park to put up signs offering help to distressed people

By Mark Edwards

Signs aimed at saving the lives of those in distress or despair are expected to be erected at Cave Hill Country Park by the autumn.

The family of Michael Cullen, whose body was found at Cave Hill on January 31 following a three-week search, have been campaigning for positive mental health signage to be erected in a bid to prevent more deaths.

A massive search operation was launched by the PSNI and search and rescue organisations after his family reported him missing.

Michael, who was 33, was an Ulster University employee from the North Circular Road area of north Belfast. He was also an accomplished beatboxer who had performed to audiences all over the UK, including London, and also in Dublin.

Michael had been struggling with depression before he went missing.

The signs at the country park will be aimed at giving people suffering mental health issues crisis information to call for help when they may be at their lowest ebb.

Michael's brother Colm has been working with SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon on the campaign.

"The campaign is to do with positive mental health and to let people know that they are not alone and that there is help that they can reach out to," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The aim is to save at least one life and help at least one person who is struggling.

"I think there will be phone numbers (on the signs) in case someone is needing support." Colm has also started a charity called Tamhi which uses the power of sport to promote positive mental health for children.

He added: "As a family we are keeping going and just taking it day by day. Every day is hard, but I'm hoping the signage will put a brighter look on things and help someone who is in need."

Mrs Mallon, the SDLP deputy leader, said: "After the loss of Colm's brother Michael a number of us wanted to do something practical to try to help anyone feeling distressed or in despair.

"We've been campaigning since for signs of hope to be erected in Cave Hill Country Park and we are delighted significant progress is being made.

"Belfast City Council, the Public Health Agency and the Belfast Trust are working with mental health charities and stakeholders to agree the design and location of these signs and they are due to be in place by the autumn."

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair contact the Samaritans free on 116 123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000.

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