Young gay people are four times more at risk of suicide than straight youths and in the LGBT community in Galway City alone five people have taken their lives in the past three years.
The shocking figures prompted Amach, the support group for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) community, to organise a meeting to discuss the range of supports and services available in the maldron Hotel last weekend.
They also hope to formulate a plan to try and prevent deaths, explains chairperson of Amach, Nuala Ward.
“Nationally suicide is a huge concern for everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity but in particular for the LGBT community it has become a particularly devastating issue,” she stated.
“Our hearts have too many times been broken by the loss of friends to suicide. Over the last few years particularly, the problem seems to have escalated and caught us all off guard.
“In our own community here, we’ve lost at least five people in the last three, maybe four years and they’re not teenagers, they were people who were out.”
Amach recently organised an intergenerational creative writing project and what clearly emerged from that was the massive difference in experiences for older and younger community members.
“For older LGBT people, there can be alcohol abuse, major mental health issues, they feel very isolated in an already isolated rural setting. We have facilitated groups around the county for older people called Silver Rainbows but if we have it in a local hotel they worry about being seen.”
The workshop was given by the suicide bereavement group, Console, and the HSE suicide prevention officer Mary O’Sullivan.
“This is one of the issues that kept coming up in the interagency group, it’s one of the things we want to address and start a conversation with the community about, to figure out what steps we need to take to prevent this happening,” explained Nuala.
“We want to come up with some kind of a plan that we can roll out for the resource centre as soon as the doors open.”
Amach has received funding of €25,000 from Galway City Council and €45,000 over three years from the St Vincent De Paul’s Maureen O’Connell Fund towards establishing the resource centre. The latter prompted an outburst from the Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan, who threatened to withdraw the Church’s support for the charity in light of the donation.
The support group estimates it needs to raise a further €35,000 to open the centre on a volunteer-basis.
They have earmarked five premises where a centre could work. One of the biggest logistical concerns is accessibility so that people feel comfortable dropping in even if they are still ‘in the closet’.
“There’s an 85% chance we’ll be open by the summer. We will get it open and build on that with a view to having it open more often. A community development support worker is vital to get it organised and develop our long-term aim of becoming self-sufficient rather than running it 24/7 on a voluntary basis.”
Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash
A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.
Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.
The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.
The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.
The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.
Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them.
Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra
Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.
The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.
A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.
“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.
“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”
Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra
Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.
Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).
The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.
Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.
Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.
- Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
- Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
- Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
- Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
- Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
- Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday
A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given. Motorists will experience delays as a result.”
The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.
Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).
“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.
“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding. High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.
“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.
“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.
Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.
“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.
“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so. Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”
Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.