Cork charity concerned over pandemic linked suicides

Cork charity concerned over pandemic linked suicides

Caitríona Twomey at Cork Penny Dinners.

THE head of a Cork charity has voiced concern around the high number of service-users they are losing to suicides despite several pleas for government action.

Back in July, Caitríona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners — a soup kitchen charity for the needy in Cork — had reported a spate of pandemic related suicides.

Despite some easing of restrictions, Ms Twomey said that suicides among her service users continue to rise.

Her main concern now is that the inclement weather conditions in the months ahead may aggravate the situation.

The Cork woman expressed fears for users of the service who are being denied one-to-one support to deal with serious mental health issues.

“We have already lost so many people,” she said.

“Now we’re worried that we are going to lose more.

“Everything that we have predicted so far has come true so it’s important that the government listens to us.

“It doesn’t matter who is in power. This has been going on for a very long time. We need to work together to save the nation.”

One of the hardest parts, Caitríona said, has been watching CPD service users be forced to endure so much pain.

“Sometimes we have to stop and take a deep breath. At the end of the day, we are only human too.”

She added that the emotional deterioration of many availing of the charity’s takeaway service on Little Hanover Street is visibly obvious.

“Because of mental health issues many people don’t know how to handle this,” she said of the pandemic.

“You can see it in them — the hurt, the fear, the visible signs of deterioration in their mental health.

“This (the issue of suicide) hasn’t leveled off since March and the government is going to have to take it seriously.”

Ms Twomey said there is no way of knowing when they can return to a dine-in service.

Nonetheless, she emphasised that something urgently needs to be done to prevent further deaths.

“Better late than never doesn’t apply here. Something needs to be done before there are more deaths.”

Uncertainty about the months ahead has led to concern from volunteers for the homeless users of Cork Penny Dinners.

“There were no toilets or places for the homeless to wash,” she said of life for the homeless during the height of the pandemic.

“The only presence on the streets were gardaí and the only places that were open were off-licences.

“People were just left at the side of the road and we are extremely worried about the winter months ahead.

“There are people walking the streets aimlessly all day long. It tires the body and mind.”

She concluded with a final message for the government.

“This has left a trail of despair. People are coming to us now who never had to use our services before.

“The good people of Cork can only do so much. Our government needs to step up. We need to protect people who fall into places where they feel the only option is ‘out’.”

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