In the news: John Concannon
Tuam businessman, and star of RTE's The Secret Millionaire, John Concannon, talks to The Galway Independent about his work with suicide and self-harm charity, Pieta House.
According to the Central Statistics Office, 486 deaths in Ireland in 2010 were recorded as suicides. In light of these figures, a local campaign group is seeking to establish a service, Pieta House West, to help people with suicidal thoughts and those who self harm
Leading the group of fundraisers working for the Pieta House West project is local businessman John Concannon.
John is the founder of JFC Manufacturing, one of Tuam’s most successful businesses, who first saw the good work that Pieta House undertake during the filming of RTE’s The Secret Millionaire last year.
After witnessing their accomplishments first hand, John decided that the West of Ireland needed Pieta House’s help.
“To be totally honest with you, I had never heard of Pieta House until I was filming The Secret Millionaire,” admitted John.
“I got talking to a taxi driver who mentioned the house and the great work Pieta House does in Dublin. Once I saw the effect they have there I knew we needed to do something similar at home.”
The HSE have already given Pieta House West a site in Toghermore, Tuam and once the €250,000 promised by the Government comes through the good work can really start. “But that will not keep the facility going,” says John.
“We really need the backing of the people to keep the Pieta House West plan running.
“So far I have not had to ask one person to put their hands in their pockets. The amount of people and businesses that have already come to me offering their help has been phenomenal,” he says.
“I am no expert on the subject of suicide, but I know firsthand how devastating such a death can be to a family, village and community. If we have worries about someone we need to be able to ask the blunt question: ‘Are you okay or are you thinking of doing something.’ And if we have Pieta House West there is somewhere for people to turn. There is nothing worse than thinking ‘what if.’”
Working according to the mantra of ‘The Pieta Way’, which was developed by Joan Freeman, Pieta House aims to prevent of self-harm or suicide through its free treatment. Eight years ago, practising psychologist Joan opened the first centre in Lucan, and they already have four centres in the capital as well as one in Limerick.
“The first centre outside Dublin opened in Limerick only last year. In the first year they took in 500 clients, but already this year they are booked out and there is a waiting list.
“Joan’s system works. She has it all planned out down to the tiniest details, like the type of teacups in the house. But the way the whole facility works is amazing. Looking at it you wouldn’t know who is a client and who is a psychologist and privacy is also a major factor. The Toghermore house in Tuam has its own carpark and is nice and secluded. It is perfect,” says John.
“But looking at the figures, it is obvious that we need such a facility to service the counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. If we were to get 100 companies in the area to help out with what they can it would be amazing. We have a social responsibility to help the vulnerable.
“All I hope is that we do not get cut off when the next review of government budgets comes up. Pieta House West can really make a difference; hopefully we will be given the chance to.”
For more details on the work of Pieta House, visit www.pieta.ie.