Ireland’s top rugby stars are being trained in how to prevent suicide and look out for their colleagues in a unique partnership with the national suicide charity, Console.
The Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) have joined forces with national suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console to provide the training to players and coaching staff in each province.
First team Munster and Connacht players have already undergone the specialised QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training at their provincial bases, and IRUPA has declared the initiative an unqualified success.
“Console’s QPR training highlights three simple steps that anyone can quickly learn to help save a life from suicide,” said former Munster star and IRUPA Player Development Manager Marcus Horan.
“A lot of the guys would now be confident in the fact that they may be able to spot the signs of someone in potential crisis.
“The thing about professional sport is that no matter what’s going on at home or in your own life, the minute you walk through the doors you have to switch on a persona. It shouldn’t be the case, but, in reality, it is.
“Anyone who has done the course will be going away with a bit more empathy for those around us, and a realisation that maybe there are things going on in a person’s life that mean a quiet chat may be the best thing.
“And that quiet chat may be the most important thing that you can have with a person.
“My own home village of Clonlara in Co Clare has lost a fair few people to suicide over the past ten years, and I know that people need to talk when they are touched by this.
“Rugby is very much group-led, and word of this course, and the help available from Console, will spread throughout the game.”
IRUPA CEO Omar Hassanien is delighted with the player reaction to the Console courses.
“Mental health has always been a pillar of our player wellbeing strategy. We are delighted with the feedback from our sessions with Console,” he said.
Paul Kelly, Console’s founder and CEO, stressed the importance and availability of QPR training to people involved in group activity in any profession.
“Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognise the warning signs of a suicide crisis know how to offer hope and then how to offer help and save a life,” he said.
Console offers counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide.
Console has full-time counselling centres in Limerick Cork, Dublin, Wexford, Galway, Kerry and Mayo. It also offers services in Kildare and Athlone and has recently opened a service in London.
Counselling is available for any individual, couples, families or children who have been affected by suicide.