‘Wexford MarineWatch’ is a voluntary organisation which provides Suicide Prevention Patrols along Wexford Quays, Estuary & Harbour.
Established in December 2012, its primary objective was to try and reduce the high level of death by suicide in the Wexford Harbour and Bridge area – one of the longest bridges in Ireland today. Previously, most of these troubled individuals were not intercepted in time and got swept away by the very strong tidal flows in the Harbour. This often resulted 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 the wider community.
In an unprecedented move never seen in any town in Ireland before, all local emergency & voluntary services joined forces to put this scheme in place – Wexford RNLI, Civil Defence, An Garda Siochana, the National Ambulance Service, Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, Wexford Fire Service, Irish Coast Guard and Wexford Local Authorities, – and they all play an active role in its operation and success to this day. This ‘inter-agency’ co-operation ensures a swift, co-ordinated response to someone in difficulty, ensuring deaths are kept to a minimum and these people get the help they need.
Since our inception in 2012 (and the first time since records began some 12 years ago), no-one has lost their life through suicide in Wexford Harbour to date – proof and testament that this concept does not just ‘work’, but works EFFECTIVELY.
Some volunteers on a winter Foot Patrol, including former Mayor, Cllr. George Lawlor (right);
Wexford MarineWatch now have in excess of 90 trained volunteers who give up just one night 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, a lot of which is overseen by the RNLI – and regularly carry out exercises with the other Emergency Services.
The primary purpose of this scheme is “Suicide Intervention” – to identify and intercept people who may be in difficulty before they harm themselves – give them immediate support and alert the correct emergency services accordingly. The secondary remit is general ‘Water Safety’ and our teams have even prevented numerous drunk revellers from uncertain death in the early hours (unknown to themselves the following morning), who have staggered too close to the edge of the open Quays or put themselves in danger. Not every death in the Harbour has been suicide – a high percentage have also been accidental. We are there to prevent BOTH.
Whilst our volunteers interact with persons in distress, we DO NOT enter the water. We are there to provide a distraction & offer support (while the appropriate emergency services such as the RNLI & Gardai/Ambulance are summoned by colleagues), along with lending a listening ear & 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