Help is out there for young people

IN light of the recent tragic suicide of a 14-year-old boy in Lurgan the ‘MAIL’ has heard from two local agencies who want to let people know help is available.

The Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm (PIPS) is based at Mount Zion House in Lurgan.

The aim of PIPS is to create awareness of suicide and self harm, to support those bereaved from suicide and improve mental health and wellbeing in our community.

Their services include training and presentations, counselling services, alternative therapies and a signposting helpline which is available 9am to 9pm, seven days a week.

They gave a list of warning signs to look out for in terms of potential suicide victims. They are: feelings of failure, loss of self esteem, isolation and hopelessness, a sense of uselessness, taking less care of themselves, suddenly taking out a will or life insurance, talking about suicide - it is a myth that people who talk about suicide don’t go through with it, Marked changes in behaviour - someone may appear calm for the first time or more usually may be withdrawn and have difficulty communicating.

If you are concerned about someone or feel at risk yourself please contact PIPS on 3831 0151 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

Action Mental Health MensSana are a training and information service based in Portadown who aim to increase awareness and understanding of some of the issues that young people are facing on a daily basis and to provide advice and information on sources of support that are available.

A spokesperson said: “Loss and grief are experiences that are natural but can be extremely overwhelming evoking intense feelings of sadness and sorrow. These feelings can be difficult to understand and to deal with and especially so for young people.

“To many people when they think of the word ‘loss’ they think of bereavement, that is, the death of someone of great importance and value. However, there are also many life events for young people that can lead to feelings of loss that have no connection with the death of a person at all. Some examples of these can include separation caused by marital breakdown, changing school and siblings leaving home.

“Grief is the natural and normal reaction to loss and can be described as feelings of deep sorrow or distress. There are many different reactions that young people can experience in response to loss, some or all of these may include sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, shock, confusion, fear and numbness.

“Young people need special help when dealing with loss and grief; they need support to work through their thoughts and emotions. If a young person bottles up their feelings this can have a particularly troubling affect as they may try to make their feelings known by starting to drink more, lose interest in their academic performance, lash out at family members or increase sexual experimentation. It is crucial therefore that young people who are dealing with loss and grief know that they have people who are there to support them and who will help them to cope in healthy ways with their emotions.”

The following advice was given on how to help a young person experiencing loss or grief: listen and be open, do not criticise, be patient, do not trivialise the young person’s feelings, do not give the young person too much responsibility following a loss or death, help your young person to find appropriate ways to express their feelings.

Family and friends can provide invaluable support to a young person who is having a particularly hard time with his or her loss.

There are a variety of sources of support available to young people who are grieving, such people include school counsellors, church groups, helplines or professionals.

If you would like further information on local organisations and sources of support, please do not hesitate to contact AMH MensSana on 3839 2314 or email Confidentiality will be respected at all times.

Some additional local sources of support that are available are:

Lifeline: 0808 808 8000

Relate (counselling service), Portadown: 9032 3454

Opportunity Youth, Lurgan: 3832 2714

Other sources of support that are available to young people are:

CRUSE Young person’s helpline: 0808 808 1677

Barnardo’s Child Bereavement Helpline: 9069 4000