DAY 1: On Monday afternoon, after many flight delays, I finally arrived in Belfast. I was so excited to walk around the city and to meet the people of PIPS programmes that we will be working with for the next two weeks. That afternoon, we met the people at PIPS. They seemed very nice and open about wanting to spend the next two weeks with us. Also, they had a few excursions planned for us, such as touring their government building and meeting members of their government who are dealing with the important issue of suicide in Belfast. It seems that the trip will provide us with alot of knowledge about the culture of Northern Ireland.
Day 2: On Tuesday, we attended a PIPS programmes suicide training session. We were emerged into the Irish culture and were able to interact with people from the community. I was seated at a table with two ambulance drivers. These two men helped us understand how the hospitals in Belfast treat patients of suicide attempts. During this training session, we were taught all about the warning signs of suicide, how important it is to ask a person it is to ask a person if they are suicidal (if you expect them to be of course) and how the government of Northern Ireland deals with the issue of suicides. Later that night, one of the workers frin PIPS took us out to a comedy club at a place called the Empire. Here we were able to hear Irish humor and to see how their humor is built around their governments past and current problems.
Day 3: This morning we met with a man named Martin who works in the Northern Ireland’s Department of Health. He informed of us what has changed since the issue of suicide is now taken more seriously in N. Ireland. He told us that the rates of suicide have increased in the past decade because now more suicides are being reported. Also, he told us that the government is allocating more money towards initiatives to prevent suicide. In the past, the government would only provide £750,000 and now the government is giving £3.5 million towards helping prevent and raise awareness towards suicide. Then this afternoon we met with a member of one of the political parties, Sinn Fein. She told us that this group is trying to find ways to stop the problems of suicide in their community. Also, they are trying to improve the lives of the Catholics in Northern Ireland. Although all this sounds wonderful, we did notice that psychologists are not be utilized within the Northern Ireland community. To see a psychologist, a person has to be referred by their GP (doctor). This prevents many people suffering from the sadness of suicide to not be helped and to be overly medicated by their GP. This also made us realize how important community organizations that focus on suicide provide the community members access to talk about their problems. We have learned so much already and this is only day 3!