Understand Suicide: Fergus Cumiskey, CEO Contact NI, pioneered Lifeline, the unique Assembly funded regional crisis suicide prevention helpline (2006-18). Fergus sets out his stall for lessons learned from 12 years of the North’s suicide prevention Protect Life Strategy.
Almost 1 million Lifeline calls, from more than 50,000 people in crisis, witness to more than 200 family bereavements by suicide in just over a decade, this speaker has clear messages on what works and what helps people in crisis.
Fergus challenges the toxic corrosive legacy conflict and austerity causing impossible gaps in trust between the public and those who govern. Best investigative journalism and commissions of inquiry all too often expose historical scapegoats, revealing few culture change lessons learned, dusty reports piled high. Fergus argues how in his experience good people don’t set out to do harm, yet are naturally intimidate to silence when employers ‘lawyer up’, scapegoat spotlight at the ready.
Fergus makes the case for courage, compassion and candour in public life. He will emphasise how stamina fails the best experts in the absence of solidarity and understanding. Isolation, defensive denial, chronic delay result in zero lessons learned, common threads linking all preventable death inquiries. Nowhere more apparent than when suicide visits family, school or workplace communities.
Fergus ranks NI regional suicide rates as disastrous. He links international evidence to his conviction that every suicide is preventable until the last moment of life.