Counselling Help to 20 Suicidal Irish People

by Hope Trust
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Counselling Help to 20 Suicidal Irish People
Counselling Help to 20 Suicidal Irish People
Counselling Help to 20 Suicidal Irish People
Holding one another up in hope
Holding one another up in hope

Great news!  The latest news report from the National Office for Suicide Prevention indicates that provisional figures for 2020 are the lowest for 2 decades at 340 deaths to suicide.  Here at Hope Trust we are celebrating the reduction in numbers,  but it is obviously tinged with sadness that there were still 340 people we have lost to suicide and 340 families grieving.

We have always counted it a privilege to be able to offer support and encouragement to those who are struggling with low mental health or suicidal ideation.  This continues on in our counselling rooms in Athlone and Galway and over zoom.  We have seen a number of new clients covering a lot of issues - anxiety, depression, trauma, adult survivors of abuse, family breakdown and suicide.  Covid seems to have exacerbated many with minor conditions or pressured others into seeking counselling for the first time, due to all the uncertainty.

We have just this week completed another Bereavement Support Group in Galway where participants bonded together well and appreciated the process and opportunity to discuss issues that a few had not discussed previously with others.  The aim of the group is firstly to offer support to those who maybe stuck or overwhelmed by their grief.  Secondly to look at some of the issues that may arise during the process of mourning, normalising for some what may have felt irrational behaviour. Thirdly to help find positive ways of expressing big emotions, and to explore new ways of providing self care in the midst of their pain. Those participating applied themselves really well to all these concepts and we trust that they have felt supported through the process.

This year Hope Trust and a number of church members from different Athlone churches were able once again to carry our candles over the Shannon Bridge and walk into Athlone town.  The aim of the walk is to bring light into the darkness and offer support and encouragement to those who are suffering after the loss of a loved one to suicide.  This year we included those who have lost loved ones to Covid as well.  Many struggling would not have had the opportunity to say goodbye, or be there to help or support loved ones in their last hours or days.  We were grateful to have participation during the time of remembrance from young and old alike from 13 to 75 years of age.  Many having come in previous years and very keen for the people in Athlone to know there are those in the community who care and want to be there in support.

We hope to continue to offer support during the coming year 2022 and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a blessed and peaceful end of 2021.  May you experience faith, hope and joy for the future!!

God bless you  

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Mountains of Mourne 35 mile challenge
Mountains of Mourne 35 mile challenge

Here in Ireland we are making tentative moves towards opening up various aspects of societal life whilst juxtaposed with the uncertainty of possible new outbreaks.  People are embracing the freedom and yet also aware that there might be a cost attached.  It certainly is a time to pause and reflect on what is important in life, what do we consider essential and to appreciate our personal connections more than ever.

We are conducting more and more face to face counselling as people tire of online options.  Zoom has certainly proved a fast friend over the worst of 'lock-down' but the majority of our clients want to have interaction with a person in the same space as they are.  Interestingly we have found an increase in people seeking counselling amongst those who would always appear 'all together' - as if they have reached a limit emotionally that they can't contain.  We see that as a good sign really - that people acknowledge their need of help more and reach out for support.

We look forward in September to starting a new Bereavement Support Group in the Galway area.  No doubt there will be those who have lost loved ones to covid who are looking for support whilst they grieve the loss.  So many who have not been able to be with family or friends to help process their grief, be held or supported through the loneliness and dark moments.  We hope to increase their support network to some degree and provide a safe space where they can talk about the unspeakable.

In two weeks time 4 courageous and wonderful friends of Hope Trust will be undertaking a 35 mile hike over the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland as a fundraiser for our charity.  We are so appreciative of their encouragement and support and trusting that they will be safe and protected on their journey.  

Any support at all that we receive is such an encouragement to us - so to have people make such an effort on our behalf is very moving.

We thank all those who have supported us in the past - your gifts were put to good use.

God bless you all


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Reaching across the divide
Reaching across the divide

The past 13 months have taught us that hope is an essential to sustain us through troubled times. In Ireland, as in many countries, the tight lockdowns, deaths, uncertainty about the future, loss of physical contact, employment and general freedoms that many consider 'rights' have taken their toll.  It has meant that many people's resilience levels have been stretched.  

It is a special privilege to be able to offer support and encouragement at this time to those who are overwhelmed and struggling with despair.  Our counselling department has been busy over the last 3 months with a variety of different cases but for most, the pandemic has intensified the issues they are facing.  So many are grieving alone at present, or struggling with anxiety over the unknown that it is hard to normalise what is far from a 'normal' event in our history.  Many have been entertaining suicidal thinking as an escape.  

At the beginning of this year we undertook a confidential evaluation of our counselling service with clients, to check if what we were offering was accomplishing all that we hoped it might. We were really encouraged with the feedback we received and would like to share a few of the comments made by participants:

'a professional and compassionate service worthwhile and beneficial'

'I've been to other counsellors in my lifetime and I couldn't see any way of improving this service'

'I found the counselling fantastic, really helped me to get through my difficult time'

'I experienced a balance of integrity, compassion, patience, wisdom, safety and understanding'

'Thankful for the service and grateful for the dedication and heart behind it'

'Counsellor kind, respectful and warm, calm and confident in manner and gave me hope in a difficult time'

''It was helpful to process out loud with someone and found it brought a lot of clarity'

 At times it feels that our small charity Hope Trust is ideally positioned for these times; we feel encouraged and strengthened to know that it is 'reaching its target'.  It would be good to expand the work we do and that is our aim for 2021. In her book, The Gift, Edith Eger describes hope as 'a willingness to cultivate within yourself whatever kindles light, and to shine that light into the darkest places'. 

We thank all those who have helped us to shine a light in dark places.

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Light in the darkness
Light in the darkness

Seasons greetings to those preparing for end of year festivities and to those remembering Holy celebrations.  This is often a nostalgic time of the year, reminiscing over Christmas' past or over events in the year present.  2020 will certainly be remembered by most as a time of recalibration and examining what is important in life.

We would like to say at the outset our sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered loss this year; whether through death, despair or change of circumstance.  To those who have found themselves without hope for the future, we would like to encourage you to hold on, you will be missed, please reach out for help.  We are all made for connection and the world would be a poorer place without you.

To those who have played such a vital role in saving lives and offering support and encouragement - thank you!  Your love and dedication have underlined the importance of humanity and caring for each other.  

On Saturday 31st October, 2020, Hope Trust invited and encouraged people to light a candle and place it in their windows as a sign of hope in the darkness.  In a season when many are focussed on the hopelessness of death, we felt it important to encourage those who are struggling to find hope for the future.

Many have lost loved ones to suicide and at present, to Covid.  Many are isolated and overwhelmed with grief.  It is a time when those who have faith in God can release prayers of comfort and consolation and provide a community of care to those who are suffering. For those who are discouraged at this time we pray you may be touched by God and be able to embrace the Spirit of Life that He offers us.  

We hope to resume Bereavement Support Groups in 2021, dependent upon restrictions that are in place at the time. Also to continue with both face to face and 'online' counselling going forward.

Happy Christmas to you all!

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So near and yet so far!
So near and yet so far!

We are happy to report that at the end of June, with lifting of restrictions, we were able to offer face to face counselling again.  Not just via a media screen, but in the flesh.

This has led to a number of adjustments on our behalf not just to comply with regulations, but in order to offer the maximum amount of safety that we can to clients who come.  Because we meet for at least an hour at a time with clients we needed to:

  • move to a larger room to ensure a 3metre distance between people
  • erect a transparent screen between counsellor and counsellee, so that we do not need to wear masks during the counselling session
  • clean and sanitise the space between clients by wiping chairs, door handles, toilet facilities and stair rails
  • we now offer individual bottled water and small tissue packs instead of a cup of tea and a box of tissues!
  • Clients have to report on their movements and whether they have knowingly had contact with someone with Covid

However it is worth it,  particularly for those who have felt isolated or imprisoned in their own homes.  For those who have been afraid to venture out and are concerned about levels of hygiene in public spaces. For those who are simply frustrated with life in this place of limbo, who want things to return to normal as soon as possible.  Also for those following conspiracy theories around Covid, who believe it is all political manipulation. 

We need to ensure that we are not adding risk to another individual by ensuring certain standards.  We also want to still be there alongside people despite the altered way of doing that.  To be human and not completely clinical.  With time people no longer see the screen between us, but it does involve adjustment and reassurance from the counsellor involved and a strong commitment to make contact through empathy.

We continue to meet online with those who are not able to travel or who prefer to not be out of their homes unnecessarily.  At times internet connections are not good, particularly for those living in the country, which poses difficulties with broken phrases or in hearing each other.  Still it is preferable to not receiving counselling at all!

Our experience is one of admiration for the way in which many are dealing with very difficult situations or facing anxiety and fear with determination.  So many are in a process of grief either for lost family or friends, lost lifestyle, work opportunities and income, plans for the future.  But often its the unknown that seems harder to deal with.  This time of transition has left many with a sense of uncertainty over what lies ahead - what is normal anymore?  Moving into a 'new normal' can be very transient as conditions change and decisions need to be made without any real sense of clarity of choice.

We still strongly believe that this too will pass.  There is still hope for the future and the present.  That life is still a gift and so too, each other.  Perhaps the benefit of crisis is that we learn to really appreciate what is important and to value those we love more fully.

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Organization Information

Hope Trust

Location: Athlone - Ireland
Project Leader:
Linda Rowett
Athlone, Ireland
$30,477 raised of $40,000 goal
545 donations
$9,523 to go
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