Almost 6 years ago I travelled back to Torquay in Devon for any Mom’s ‘living nightmare’, My Beautiful Little Man, Baba Oisín’s inquest. Precious Baba Oisín had left us as a result of the horrific impact of our crash with Marek RIP.
It was in a word horrendous!! Being back in the beautiful town where we had our last hugs, laughs, special moments as a family and now I was there with my wonderful brother Tomás, fantastic Police Liaison Officers Gary and Sarah and my legal team on a fight for My Beauties.
I had managed to forgive Marek RIP the previous November, lit a candle for him and began including him in my Prayers. While many thought this bonkers I’m sure but reality is who do you Pray for, the most influential people in your life! Marek had influenced my life, he’d changed it forever!!
I honestly felt that it was the Police Officer involved was also to blame. However when I met him, I realised he was only a young man, a bit like my brother and so I re read the Independent Police Complaints Commission Report from his point of view. And so it led me to also blame the control room staff who failed to guide him. To me they are a step removed from the adrenalin of the scene and so need to be trained in suicide awareness to guide and help the Officer at the scene!
The Coroner Ian Arrow was terribly kind not to mention compassionate toward us during Little Man’s inquest and allowed me address all involved after. Although we had much drama having to travel to London to the High Court over questions to be put to the jury, the Coroner did say police followed agreed guidelines he still ended up concluding that the guidelines be reviewed. He said: “during the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. “I ask ACPO to review please, how police officers approach suicidal persons”.
For the first time since our crash on July 6th 2012, I spoke with the media
Thereafter I began my Campaign that all Police Officers, Gardaí and Control Room Staff be trained in Suicide Awareness.
Since then there have been so many positives with regard to this thank God..
I’ve met with many both at home in An Garda Siochána and across the water in the UK. I can hand on heart say that the forces I’ve chatted with from Home Office, Camarthan & Brecon Policing, Devon & Cornwall Police, the Metropolitan Police and the Gardaí have been most welcoming.
Many influential changes have been made across different forces with regard to suicide awareness training both amongst newly trained Police Officers and indeed control room staff which is superb.
I can’t overemphasise the help with regard to this that I received from Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid at TISPOL, his colleagues at Garda Traffic and Superintendent Pat McCabe at Templemore Garda Training College in ensuring that all Gardaí and control room staff were trained in suicide awareness and they invited me to speak with their Garda Driver Trainers with regard to suicidal drivers.
Chief Superintendent Jim Nye kindly invited me over to Devon and Cornwall Police Headquarters in 2015 to see advancements they’d undertaken with regard to driver training and Police Pursuits which were most impressive and primarily based on the principle of least intrusion which I was very impressed by.
Today I learned that all the control room staff at Devon & Cornwall Police were trained in suicide awareness this week which in my opinion is powerful. Whilst I know they have had a great mental health awareness training programme in place for quite some time, but this is something I’ve always pushed for and dreamt I’d hear one day! This has been my hope since 2013!! No doubt My Beauties in Heaven are Smiling!
It may not be done because of us but I honestly believe Con, Baba Oisín and Little Lady are a ‘tiny’ bit involved and that our tragic crash on July 6th 2012 has been an influence.
Whether we’ve had an influence or not who knows, but what matters is the training is now there and Please God many lives will be saved and not damaged, be they suicidal, innocent victims, police officers, family liaison officers or control room staff!
Of course I will continue to push that this training will be included in all Police training both here at home, in the UK and across Europe and that not only new recruits, and control room staff be trained but that all serving Police Officers get the opportunity to avail of it also. Afterall this is something that has no downside, it will help everyone from the suicidal person on how they are approached, to the Police Officer having the confidence and skills on how to approach them, to the control room staff in having the ability and training to guide the poor Police Officer on possibilities of approach in a calming manner!!
I believe suicide awareness training is integral to Police and Garda Training. Afterall Life is truly Precious and nobody wants their loved ones Gone Too Soon!!
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