AN Irish GP and author has unveiled a new concept which can help to identify people who are in danger of taking their own lives.
Dr Harry Barry launched the theory of the Suicide Cocoon at the Console World Suicide Prevention Day Conference at Croke Park on Friday September 7th.
“The almost universal refrain from many family members bereaved by suicide is how the person in distress seemed so normal before the event,” said Dr Barry, who delivered a keynote speech to the conference marking the tenth anniversary of suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console.
“Survivors looking back at the period before the attempt also struggle to explain how they behaved.
“Before entering the Cocoon, people may demonstrate worsening of physical symptoms such as increasing fatigue, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, agitation and restlessness, and increasing withdrawal from those close to them.
“However, when in the Cocoon they seem to become much calmer, their mood may even improve and previous distresses may seem to have settled down.
“Those close to them may feel that any previous issues with mood or anxiety have actually been left behind.
“Some may make special efforts to visit family members or friends or even give away objects to good friends or close family members.
“By using the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) model that I outline, we can identify those at risk earlier – before they enter the Cocoon.
“It is my belief that if we don’t understand the signs of the Cocoon, we are going to struggle to reach the person in difficulty.
“I feel that this understanding may go some way towards helping many families come to terms with their grief.
“I have explored the mystery of suicide by looking at the mental health issues behind it, with a particular emphasis on depression, and also by the neurobiology of suicide.
“However, I have learned most by listening to those who have been survivors of very serious attempts, and by helping countless others suffering from depression and also family members of those bereaved by suicide.”
Paul Kelly, CEO of Console, said: “With suicide rates at consistently high level in Ireland, Console is determined to bring fresh ideas and innovative community-based suicide prevention and postvention knowledge to these shores.
“We need a new understanding of the risk factors associated with suicide, and importantly, more insight into how we can reach those at such a critical point in their lives.”
Dr Barry was joined at the Console conference by a wide range of national and international speakers who focused on the role of the community in providing crisis support and suicide prevention/postvention services.
Radio personality Ray Darcy hosted a forum discussion on suicide with a panel of expert speakers from the conference.