Caroline is the Founder of Suicide or Survive, an organisation which has designed an innovative suicide prevention group programme called the Eden Programme.
Suicide or Survive was set up in 2003 by Caroline McGuigan as a result of her personal experience of suicide and survival.
Caroline has learnt over the years that life is quite complex and it’s more about giving a person options when it comes to mental health than fixing them. There is a huge perceived need to fix people. Caroline believes it’s about encouraging a person to recognise the many parts of themselves and to work on the relationships they have with these parts and the possibility of accepting and learning.
Caroline sees herself as working towards breaking down the stigma that is associated with mental health. Based on her own experiences, Caroline believes that we need to start to ask the questions “Are we listening? Are we being real with each other?”
The Suicide or Survive programme provides an opportunity to people who have attempted or contemplated suicide to explore their own experiences, develop their personal skills and source avenues of support and assistance.
The organisation developed in order to fill two gaps in existing healthcare services for those who have attempted or contemplated suicide.These are the lack of one-to-one psychotherapeutic interventions that can be easily accessed and a safe space to explore experiences and seek support.
One of the key drivers behind the work of SOS is the desire to support and assist the individual to harness his/ her own strengths and provide them with the tools to improve their own mental wellness.
SOS successfully developed its Eden Programme to provide a safe space where people who have contemplated/ attempted suicide can explore their experiences and gain the skills to manage their own wellness, particularly in times of crisis. The programme has been refined and developed based on both internal and external evaluations over the years and was manualised in 2013 in readiness for its roll out both nationally and internationally.
In the period from 2008 to 2013, Caroline worked with Amnesty International Ireland as an expert in their campaign to have mental health recognised as a human rights issue. In 2012 SOS launched its National ‘Talk, Listen, Change’ campaign in conjunction with Vodafone and the GAA .
In 2013 SOS partnered with See Change, the National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership, to develop and deliver Workplace Mental Health training. This training aims to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace and provide people with information on their rights and responsibilities in relation to mental health and employment.
Caroline continues to bring her expertise by experience to the table at national forums influencing policy, strategy and service delivery.
The change I want to see in Ireland is that young and old are not hiding the parts of themselves they believe to be shameful and weak…I want to work towards stopping one suicide, which effects up to 50 additional lives, and to promote difference.