Campaign aims to break stigma over suicide

A Carrick woman is seeking to ‘break the stigma’ over suicide in the borough with the help of a young people’s charity.

Campaigner Sami Cullen, 24, joined with UK-wide organisation Fixers to create a billboard aimed at helping those who are feeling suicidal to understand they are not alone.

The billboard is currently being shown at the end of Irish Quarter and Albert Road, where it will remain for another week.

Sami lost her younger brother Jay to suicide in 2007 when he was just 16. “Jay was an avid Glentoran supporter and really loving to all he knew. He brought so much happiness into all our lives, and was a friend to all,” she said.

“I’m always trying to do something to raise awareness; the billboard is a really good way of trying to break the stigma over suicide; it’s something that happens but people never really talk about.

“There are lots of people who are willing to help, if you just reach out. Be it Lifeline, Lighthouse, your GP, or a family member, just talk to someone.”

Sami’s billboard campaign coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day, which takes place every year on September 10.

The idea was supported by East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs Jr, who attended an awareness event organised by Sami in Carrick Town Hall in April. “Roy Beggs had been speaking at a Fixers launch earlier that same day and he put us in touch,” she said.

Having lost her brother, Sami hopes her campaign can help raise awareness of support services and ensure others like Jay don’t take the same decision.

“It scares people but we need to be open to talking about the issue in order to make changes,” she added.

“I know this billboard won’t fix everything, but I believe it can be a starting point for getting people thinking about the support available to them.

“I truly believe hope is possible, change is possible and prevention is possible.”

Fixers is a charity which supports young people across the UK to take action and change things for the better, addressing any issue they feel strongly about.

The award-winning project has already supported over 9,000 young people to have an authentic voice in their community.

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