Recent figures indicate that close to 600 people a year now lose their lives to suicide in Ireland. World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th was marked by a series of candlelight vigils, attended by people bereaved by suicideThe ICP Conference chose to highlight the issue with the opening address delivered by Dan Neville TD, who has a particular interest in and knowledge of the area of suicide and its prevention, as Sheila Killoran Gannon reports in her review in this issue. In his speech entitled “ The Neglect of Psychotherapeutic Intervention in the Treatment of Mental Illness and Bereavement, Suicide and Suicide prevention”, Deputy Neville quoted from a report by the Irish College of Psychiatry to the Joint Committee of Health and Children, which stated that 80% of psychiatric consultants do not have access to a psychotherapist.
A personal account of what goes through the mind of a person contemplating suicide is courageously presented in this Autumn issue of Inside Out by Caroline McGuigan, who recently participated on the Joe Duffy Show. Caroline, having survived attempted suicide, availed of psychotherapy and trained as a psychotherapist, went on to found SOS-Suicide or Survive, an organisation which aims to provide compassionate help and group counselling to people “whose thoughts are moving towards suicide”. In the light of the obvious need for increased and improved provision, including psychotherapy, in regard to suicide, and other mental health issues, the recent announcement by the HSE of cutbacks in staffing levels was disquieting, to say the least. We invite comment on these crucial issues. Where do we stand as individuals and as psychotherapy associations?
The disappearance of little Madeleine McCann in Portugal, and the investigation that followed, raised disturbing issues in relation to the safety and protection of children, as well as sensationalistic media coverage. An antidote, in the guise of an inspirational interview conducted by Shirley Ward with child therapist, Eileen Prendiville, in this issue, helps us to focus our minds on what can be done therapeutically to help children and their families, the creative methods employed, and how essential specific training for therapists is, as children are not simply “small adults”. The interview stresses the need for legal reforms in relation to child abuse, and the need of Ireland to have national standards for play therapy as a branch of psychotherapy.
Our profession needs to constantly evaluate and critique itself in order to remain healthy and vibrant. “The Trouble with Therapy 1. Clinical Dimensions”, by Barbara Dowds, is the first of two articles (the second will appear in our Spring 2008 issue), which challenge us to revisit and re-think some of our basic clinical assumptions and practices. The ICP Conference is reviewed by a number of writers. Francesca Lundstrom unequivocally recommends Alan Carr’s Review: “The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: A Review of Research” which was commissioned by the ICP and presented at the Conference, as an invaluable resource not only to psychotherapists, but also to HSE personnel, other professionals and service providers. She also recommends that a summary of the report should be made available in GP surgeries, pharmacies and other venues to inform the public, particularly those in distress, of the benefits of psychotherapy. Both Lundstrom and Ursula Somerville highlight their difficulties in accessing the Review, in the aftermath of the conference. Lunstrom advises that the Review “deserves to be showcased rather than hidden away.”
The invitation in the Summer issue for a new recruit to our Editorial Board has been answered –we warmly welcome Margaret Byrne, a therapist with a Gestalt background, who will undoubtedly bring new energy to the team, while Angela McCarthy steps down…. We have had a very positive response to the Space… with wonderful offerings lined up from now to Autumn 2008. As the evenings grow dark and fires are lit, some readers may feel inspired to take up their pens and give rein to that deep-rooted desire to write-we encourage them to do so. Now is the time!