Former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a major new suicide prevention program in Dublin. The program being run by RehabCare is aimed at tackling a growing number of suicides in Ireland, particularly among young men. Figures for 2003 show that 444 people took their own lives, with 11,2000 attempted suicides also recorded.
“We want to change the culture where young men find it difficult to talk about their feelings,” said RehabCare chairwoman Angela Kerins. “Whether it’s money matters, exams, their boyfriend or girlfriend, there are increased expectations of what young people should achieve. It’s a symptom of how society has changed, and it leads to a great sense of hopelessness and despair.”
“More people die each year by suicide than are killed on our roads yet, there is still a greater awareness of the loss of life on our roads,” added former SDLP leader John Hume, patron of the scheme. “The statistics don’t lie. The truth is not being twisted. We have a problem that needs to be tackled and one that to date has not had a cohesive response.”
The former U.S. President launched the program at a high-profile gala fund-raising dinner in Dublin attended by over 1,000 people. It was the second cause to which Clinton lent his name in Dublin last month. He also appeared at the launch of The Rose Project, an AIDS initiative that assists a Franciscan missionary group in Kenya. Some 350 guests came to hear Clinton speak at the Project’s special breakfast, raising funds in the region of 200,000 euros. ♦