A plea has been made for mental health services for children living in Lochaber after hearing the shocking story of a suicidal nine-year-old girl who tried to get help for herself from a local charity.
The plight of the young girl who approached charity Lochaber Hope was one of a number of concerns raised at a public meeting discussing suicide – and what to do about it in the north town.
The meeting heard that self harm and suicidal thoughts had been expressed by as many as 4o% of the youth population in a survey at the town’s high school.
The shocking figures came before a community meeting, hosted by Lochaber Hope, to discuss a peer-to-peer support group for adults held in the Nevis Centre in Fort William.
More than 70 people turned out to the meeting and plans were made to setting up support networks for children and adults, it was decided to set up two support groups – one for men and one for women. While a support group for children was being looked at for later in the year.
At the meeting, parents, family and friends of those who had taken their own lives spoke frankly about their loss, and ways in which they want to help other people.
Facilitators from Martyn’s Monday Club, a group held in Oban, came to the meeting to encourage organisers to set up two groups.
Volunteer Dez MacMillan said the group set up in Oban, last year, could already claim its work had saved the lives of two people.
Mr MacMillan said: “We are not professionals, we are peer-to-peer supporters of the group. We have saved the lives of two people and countless other people have changed their lives because of the work we are doing in Oban.
“I would encourage people in Fort William to do the same, and set up a group. We can provide the training you need, and get you started as soon as possible.”
Iain Cruickshanks, a facilitator at the Oban group, spoke of the loss of his own son Martyn, last May and how the opportunity to save other lives through talking gives him hope for the future.
Organiser Carrie Starkie from Lochaber Hope asked members of the audience and others to come forward to train to be facilitators of the group.