Sports Stars Support Suicide Awareness Video

Jim McGuinness (Donegal Manager), Alan Quinlan (former Irish International Rugby player), Finian Hanley (Galway GAA Captain), Adrian Logan (BBC sport presenter), Kevin Keane (Mayo GAA Team player and IT Sligo Student), and FAI International Young Player of the Year 2013 and IT Sligo Student, Emma Hansberry, are amongst a group of sport stars featured on a new video about suicide awareness produced by three IT Sligo students.

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The video was launched today at IT Sligo by Armagh GAA player Oisin McConville.

Given that Ireland has one of the highest rates of suicide amongst young males in Europe, the students focused their message at this group and sought out some of Ireland’s top sporting starts to encourage those at risk to talk to someone close to them.

Thought provokingly called ‘Who Would You Tell?’ the video was produced by Stephen Doak (Creeslough, Donegal), David Mackin (Dundalk) and Stephen Sullivan (Coole, Westmeath) as part of their final year project in the BSc in Public Health and Health Promotion at IT Sligo.

If he was feeling suicidal, Donegal GAA Team Manager Jim McGuinness says he would tell ‘a family member of a friend’; Connacht Rugby Player John Muldoon says he would tell his girlfriend; Galway GAA Captain Finian Hanley said he would tell his parents and his girlfriend; and Mayo GAA player Kevin Keane would tell his parents and his girlfriend.

“There is such a taboo around suicide and that’s what we wanted to tackle in this video,” said student Stephen Sullivan. “People who feel suicidal feel they can’t talk about it, and those who are worried about friends are afraid to broach the subject with them. But talking is the best medicine and that’s what we are trying to promote in this video.”

Jim McGuinness encourages people to speak out about their problems on the video; “My own community has been devastated by it in the last number of years, old and young,” he says. “It’s something that just stops you in your tracks. You wish that you could do something, or that you could have known or helped by the reality is sometimes you don’t and that’s why it’s so important that if you’re any way down or carrying anything, or if you feel depressed, to try to seek people out. Don’t carry it yourself, try and move forward with the help and support of other people. That’s the key thing,” he said.

Rugby player Alan Quinlan echoes these sentiments; “There’s no doubt about it that people tend to sweep their problems under the carpet and not open up. But they escalate and get worse and times does on. There is no shame in speaking out and opening up to someone,” he says.

John Muldoon says suicide is ‘crippling society; “Don’t be macho. Don’t be afraid. Don’t think that people will think less of you…if you’re in a bad place, talk to someone,” he said.

Mental Health Promotion/Suicide Resource Officer with HSE West Mike Rainsford, is also quoted on the video. “There is an invisible barrier associated with suicide,” he said. “Those feeling suicidal don’t want to burden people by talking about it and their friends and family don’t know how to raise it with them. The only way we can help is to communicate to each other, to our friends or with support services. A problem shared really is a problem halved, so the very simple message about communication underpinning this video is very important.”

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The BSc in Public Health and Health Promotion at IT Sligo is an innovative and practically-driven degree programme which equips students with a variety of skills to promote health amongst specialised and applied health areas and populations. Lecturer Maire McCallion said practical projects are a core part of the programme; “The students have received tremendous support from the sporting community in this project,” she said.”  Videos are powerful communication and promotional tools and the students are hoping that this video will be used by schools and sporting and community groups to promote suicide awareness and the importance of mental health.”

Those who are affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts should contact their GP. Other sources of support also include the Samaritans 1850 609090, 1Life 1800 24 7 100 and Stop suicide 1850 211 877.

You can view the video here

The full list of people featured in the video is as follows:

  • Jim McGuinness – Donegal GAA Manager
  • John Muldoon – Connacht Rugby Player
  • Alan Quinlan – Former Ireland and Munster Rugby player
  • Finian Hanley – Galway GAA captain
  • Mike Rainsford – Suicide Prevention Officer, Sligo
  • Adrian Logan – BBC Presenter
  • Kevin Keane – Mayo footballer / IT Sligo Student
  • Emma Hansberry – FAI International Young Player of the Year 2013 / IT Sligo Student
  • Helen Campbell – IT Sligo student
  • Karen Samuels – Ulster Bank
  • Lisa Brady – iRadio DJ

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