‘Wexford MarineWatch’ provides voluntary Suicide Prevention Patrols along Wexford Quays & Harbour – and has just entered its 3rd successful year…
Established in December 2012, its primary objective was to try and reduce the high level of deaths by suicide in the Wexford Harbour and Bridge areas – one of the longest bridges in Ireland today. Most of these poor individuals are not intercepted in time and get swept away by the very strong tidal flows in the Harbour. This often results in drawn out lengthy voluntary searches, sometimes for weeks or even months – resulting in distress & heartbreak for the families, the relatives, the search teams and even the wider community.
For the first time ever, all local emergency & voluntary services have joined forces to put this scheme in place – Wexford Civil Defence, An Garda Siochana, the RNLI, the National Ambulance Service, Order of Malta, Wexford Fire Service, the Irish Coast Guard and Wexford Local Authority, – and they all still play an active role its operation to this day. This ‘inter-agency’ co-operation now ensures a swift, co-ordinated response to someone in difficulty, and means each agency is aware of the capabilities & limitations of the other.
For the third year running now, and the first time since records began some 12 years ago, no-one has lost their life through suicide in the Harbour – proof and testament this concept not just ‘works’, but works EFFECTIVELY.
Some volunteers on Foot Patrol, including Mayor George Lawlor (right);
Wexford MarineWatch’s success is got by its ‘Intervention & Safety Patrols’ which take place several nights a week by trained Volunteers. We now have in excess of 80 volunteers who give their time on a rota-basis each month, to help prevent loss of life, make people aware of the dangers of the water and provide assistance to anyone who may be in difficulty. They also monitor life-saving equipment in the area ensuring all are intact and functioning correctly, whilst replacing any damaged or vandalised items such as stolen Ringbuoys or tangled ropes.
Each team of volunteers is headed up by a Supervisor, who is responsible for liaising with the Emergency Services including the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and the Gardai at regular intervals. All Volunteers are trained to a high standard and regularly carry out exercises with the Emergency Services including the Lifeboat.
The primary purpose of the scheme is to provide an “intervention service” – to identify and intercept people who may be in difficulty before they do ‘self-harm’ – and alert the correct emergency services accordingly. Our secondary remit is general ‘water safety’ and our teams have prevented numerous drunk revellers from uncertain death in the early hours of the morning, who have staggered too close to the edge or put themselves in danger…
None of our Volunteers come into physical contact with a person in distress and DO NOT enter the water. They are there to provide a distraction & offer support (while the appropriate emergency services such as the RNLI are summoned by other team members), along with providing the person with information on local 24hr professional assistance that is available, which they may not be aware of.
“Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse… it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better”.
3 times more people die by Suicide in Ireland than die in road traffic accidents.
Deaths by Suicide are devastating for those left behind, for families and loved ones and entire communities - Yet Suicide is preventable. Every life is priceless and every cent earned for suicide prevention is invaluable”. 3T’s Charity