On the 18th of January 2018, 54 4th and 5th year students attended the “Cycle Against Suicide: Student Leaders Congress 2018″ in the 3Arena. We arrived at the 3Arena and were greeted with smiling ambassadors for Cycle Against Suicide (CAS) who were offering face paint and group photos to all the schools in attendance. Many different voluntary organisations such as “Teenline”, “Spunout.ie”, “Reachout.com” and “Zeminar” were offering advice to students on topics such as exam stress etc.
At 10:00 everyone began to file into the main arena where the hosts Bob Kearney and Nicki Hayes introduced the first act. Booka Brass, an Irish band who kicked off the show by performing some of their original songs. Next Sinead Kane, a visually impaired Irish woman who ran 7 marathons on 7 continents in 6 days and 9 hours spoke about how she was bullied as a child but she didn’t let it effect her or stop her from achieving her dreams.
The next special guest was Kaylee Cullinan a singer and previous contestant on Celebrity Operation Transformation. She discussed how she was attacked by a group of bullies and had to have a number eye surgeries due to this attack. Kaylee was joined on stage by a group of student ambassadors to sing “Fight Song” a song about showing strength during tough times.
Paralympians Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal then discussed their personal struggles and how sport improved their outlook on life. Many other guest speakers such as James Kavanagh and Irish hurler Davy Glennon spoke about their struggles in life and how they affected their mental health. A number of bands, dancers and musicians also performed such as David Geaney, Curtis Walsh, Weather Underground, House of Swag and Little Hours.
Through out the day many different forms of social media were used with the #EmpowerYourVoice to show how important it is to talk to someone if you are struggling. This hashtag coincides with the saying “It is ok not to be ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help”.
The last guest speaker to talk to the conference was Kevin Hines. Kevin is one of just 36 people to ever survive jumping off the Golden Gate bridge as a suicidal attempt. Kevin told his incredible story and managed to make an impact on everyone at the conference. Kevin’s central message was that everyone cares about you and you are loved. Kevin ended his talk with “Be here tomorrow”; a motto he lives by.
The conference was a very positive event that involved ‘mexican waves’ and ‘group dances’. It was a very worthwhile trip and we thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the day. We hope to carry the main message from the conference “It is ok not to be ok and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help” to Beaufort and raise awareness about mental health in school.
Cycle Against Suicide 2018 Reflection
On Tuesday the 18th of January fourth and fifth year students including myself went with Ms Donohue to the Cycle Against Suicide in the 3Arena. The main thing I have learned from this event today is “its ok not to feel ok; and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help” This message was positively and successfully drilled into everyone’s head today, which I think is really appreciable because the more it is said the more effective the phrase becomes, which means it is taken to mind by all those who need to hear it. While the phrase, by being said by so many different types of people, makes people feel ok to put the phrase into use. This is where the #empoweryourvoice also comes into action, to ask for help you need to empower your voice.
A different perspective on the #empoweryourvoice is that there were many people whose suffering has led to their success and confidence up on that stage empowering their voice. For instance: James Kavanagh who was once bullied for being himself resulted in him hiding who he really was, is now a glorified well known Irish vlogger who has risen way above his bullies. Sinead Kane, a smart woman whose disability was seen and not her ability and was told she could not get a law degree by her career guidance teacher, now has a master’s in law and qualified to be a solicitor and ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days and has proved many wrong. Kevin Hines who attempted suicide by jumping off the golden gate bridge miraculously survived and is treating his life as a gift everyday saving other lives by travelling the world as a motivational speaker, with his positive and humorous atmosphere. He said all that he needed was someone to ask “Are you ok? Do you want some help?” while he was crying surrounded by people. What I have taken away from Hines speech that I did not know before is that: it’s not your fault you’re sad sometimes it’s the world that is dispassionate.
I found this event today very enjoyable yet unembellished and benevolent. The way the Cycle Against Suicide team went about organising this event is remarkable. The event, in my eyes was so successful in so many ways, people thoroughly enjoyed the event from what I seen in an amusing way with the dancing and the bands. Also in a realistic way with all the genuine stories from real people sharing their motivational success stories on how they overcame their hardships, which we all can reflect on and take up. It is really astonishing that people can leave an event having had fun, learned, felt empathy and improved on themselves and some people their lives.
My expectations for this event was a long talk from some high-end psychologists, some guest appearances and some music. The reality was, as I have already addressed, genuine and interesting stories, from what people had suffered from at our age which made their stories understandable and relatable for some, great advice, guest appearances that we knew of, dancing and bands which were very talented. I think that the bands were a good idea to tie in with Cycle Against Suicide because a lot of people have found music as an outlet from the hard parts of life.
Overall, I feel I have developed a realistic and optimistic outlook on mental health meaning that its ok to have negative thoughts but just not to give into them and let them take over. Instead surround yourself with a positive group of people which for me would be school and family.
Reflection by Sarah Joyce:
Today on the 18th of January I was picked as one of 54 people to go to the Cycle Against Suicide 2018 Student conference. The main message of the day was ‘it’s ok not to feel okay’ and ‘empower your voice’ . I wasn’t sure to expect but was excited to get to hear other people’s stories and get inspiration for what we could do in our school as a memeber on the amber flag committee. When we first went in we came across a Snapchat vlogger named Rhys Sheridan who spoke to us about teen line which is a phone line that you can call if you need someone to talk to or just need help etc. We then went around to different tables where schools would explain their contribution to the #schoolsgoorange. When we went into the auditorium itself there was music and dancing and people speaking about their suffering with mental health struggles. They spoke about a range of things from gambling to bullying to bipolar disorder. For me the most inspirational was Kevin Hines who was a survivor after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He spoke about his story and the lead up to his suicide attempt and how one person asking ‘are you okay’ would have completely changed his outlook on life and would have given him another chance. James Kavanagh also spoke about his struggles with bullying growing up and his struggles of being confident in himself and in his sexuality.
Throughout the day I definitely think I learnt a lot about looking out for one another and how to really spread the very important message of asking for help in our school.
I was delighted to take part in today and excited to promote as much mental fitness as I can in our school community.