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Dublin camogie player, Eve O'Brien, and Tipperary hurler, Patrick Maher, pictured at Croke Park promoting the GAA's partnership with Samaritans. 
Dublin camogie player, Eve O'Brien, and Tipperary hurler, Patrick Maher, pictured at Croke Park promoting the GAA's partnership with Samaritans. 

Samaritans Ireland and GAA work together to prevent suicide

On World Suicide Prevention Day, Samaritans Ireland and the GAA are urging players and members who are struggling with mental health to seek help.

World Suicide Prevention Day takes place today, Thursday, September 10th and this year’s theme is 'working together to prevent suicide'. Samaritans Ireland and the GAA are continuing their winning partnership to reach men and women across Ireland, highlighting the importance of good mental and physical health and of asking for help. Samaritans Ireland became the GAA’s official mental health partner six years ago with the aim of tackling the stigma associated with mental health and encouraging players, members, their families and the sporting community to seek help when needed.

Over the last five years, the GAA distributed almost 12,000 Samaritans posters to every club in the country, with tens of thousands of wristbands, pens and cards handed out at Provisional Football Finals and county matches. Ulster GAA, in conjunction with the Public Health Agency (PHA), has also produced pitch side signs including Samaritans helpline as a source of support for those in distress.

Niall Mulligan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland, said: “Every 90 minutes, someone in Ireland or the UK takes their own life. Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy and everything we do at Samaritans is working towards our vision that fewer lives are lost to suicide. Samaritans partnership with the GAA is one of the most important projects we have. With the support of the entire organisation, we have been able to reach men and women across the island of Ireland to spread the message that help is there if needed. The relationships between GAA clubs and our branches ensure the message of ‘Talk to Us’ is highlighted in the community and encourages people to talk about what affects them. Samaritans Ireland’s key message is that if you’re struggling, if life is difficult and you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or unable to cope, don’t struggle through it alone. Don’t bottle it up. We’re here to listen whatever you’re going through.”

John Horan, GAA President, said: “The GAA are determined to be proactive when it comes to our members’ mental health and linking up with the Samaritans for the past six years has greatly helped. The GAA reflects Irish society and the challenges that impact our communities also impact our clubs. Each year the GAA responds to multiple critical incidents that impact our clubs or counties with many of those relating to mental health, and, unfortunately, a tragic death by suicide. Our partnership with Samaritans offers every GAA members with access to their 24-hour, 365 days-a-year emotional support structures. Please avail of them.” 

Each Samaritans branch has appointed a GAA liaison representative to engage with local GAA clubs through the GAA’s 32 county health and wellbeing structures. Samaritans offer training workshops to GAA coaches and volunteers on request and offer mental health awareness talks at club level.

We encourage anyone in need of support to contact Samaritans FREE 24 hour freephone helpline on 116 123, text 087 260 9090 (RoI only) or email jo@samaritans.ie in the Republic of Ireland or jo@samaritans.org from Northern Ireland.

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