Who we are
We have come together to challenge the stigma that surrounds vulnerability and struggle – something we will all experience in our life. We come with good hearts, passion and determination. We come as individuals who believe suicide prevention is for all of us to tackle and all of us to own.
Caroline McGuigan – CEO and Founder
- CEO – Suicide or Survive
- Co-Ordinator – No Panic Ireland, for ten years
- Qualified psychotherapist (Trinity College)
- Tutor/Facilitator (Maynooth College and Community-based projects)
- Mental Health Advocate
- Amnesty International, expert by experience – Mental Health as a Human Rights Issue
- Member of the Expert by Experience Advisory Group
- Trained Advanced WRAP Facilitator
Caroline has experience of personally attempting suicide and the limited services provided. She spent 8 years as a user of the psychiatric services, leaving her with an in-depth knowledge of the medical model, how and why a person is diagnosed and the treatment they may receive in Ireland. She received a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Level 1 Award in 2006, and a Level 2 Award in 2007.
Caroline was part of a very powerful documentary “I See a Darkness”. In the programme, Caroline along with her husband John pieces together her journey towards her suicide attempt and her subsequent recovery. Today, Caroline has two young children and has become a trained counsellor. Her story, alongside the moving testimony of her husband and friends, is a ray of hope in this dark arena.
Stephanie McDermott – Director & Chairperson
Stephanie has a degree in Management Science & Information Systems Studies from Trinity College. She works in the non-profit sector in the area of volunteer management.
Reason for Involvement with SOS: “I am passionate about removing the stigma associated with mental ill health and about empowering people to move from wanting to take their own life to living full, healthy and happy lives. I wholeheartedly agree with SOS’s goals and want to be part of helping to make them happen. I’ve personally been affected by mental ill health and feel I can bring my own life experiences and learning to the table.”
Helen Allen – Director and Secretary
Helen founded and participated in Community Co-op and is a member of Women’s Action Network.
Reason for involvement in SOS: “I have personally been affected by an attempted suicide and the impact it has on a family. SOS’s ethos of respect, genuineness, understanding and the opportunity for an individual to look at life rather than death makes sense”
Catriona Hogan – Director
- Founder of CH Consulting. A company that specialises in providing professional advice to charities on good governance, fundraising, compliance with the charities act 2009 and general funding, development and compliance in the sector. Member of the implementation group for the Statement of Guiding Principles for fundraising.
- Twenty years’ experience working in and with charitable and not for profit organisations in Ireland at an operational and senior management level.
Ten of the above twenty years involved being part of the senior management team for a charity specialising in counselling and psychotherapy with particular emphasis on mental health and suicide prevention.
Reason for Involvement with SOS: “I met the CEO and founder of SOS Caroline about ten years ago at a training seminar and I was instantly inspired by her honesty, openness and vision for the organisation. I have observed the growth and very positive developments of SOS since its foundation. I feel its willingness to be transparent and ethical whilst running a vital service in the area of suicide prevention and mental health is admirable and deserves all our support.”
Pippa Woolnough – Director
- Currently Advocacy Campaigners Officer with Barnardos Ireland
- Previously spent five years with Amnesty International Ireland working on its mental health and human rights campaign.
- Social justice campaigner and human rights activist with eight years’ experience.
Reason for Involvement with SOS: “”SOS is an incredible organisation staffed by inspirational individuals, which has built up an exceptional reputation because it puts the person at the heart of every service it provides. SOS has remained true to its ethos – that recovery is always possible and that every one of us has a part to play improve the lives of those experiencing mental health difficulties. With a background in human rights based approaches, I am especially passionate about ending mental health prejudice and discrimination. I am honoured to join the SOS team and look forward to learning from their combined expertise.”
Pearse Finnegan – Director
- Reason for involvement with SOS: For more than 40 years I have worked in the health services with people who have had to deal with mental issues from surgical / psychological / and emotionally and the one thing that I noted was a major deficit is the education of the patient in how to cope. When I meet Caroline she had just gone through a crisis in her life which nearly ended her life. But she educated herself in what was going in her life and how to cope/deal with it, she wanted to educate other who had the similar life experience. This is why I am very supportive of Caroline and SOS and am looking forward to supporting and developing SOS.
Melissa Bosch – Director
Reason for involvement with SOS: We all need someone to talk to, someone who listens, someone who understands. Through my journey of self-discovery and self-awareness, I have realised that mental health is not seen as something people can talk about comfortably. I believe that the programmes and support that SOS provides helps breakdown those barriers, and encourages people to understand the best way to manage their own mental well-being. And through education and breaking down the stigma we can help people live a better quality of life.
Olivia Hunt – Member
- Passionate about promoting mental wellness
- Currently studying Counselling and Psychotherapy
- Professional Certificate in Financial Advice
- 6 years’ experience in the Financial Sector
Reason for involvement with SOS: “Suicide Prevention is very dear to my heart since losing my brother Derek to suicide in 2000. Losing a precious life through suicide is a truly devastating experience for a family and a community. It’s a harsh reality but the stigma that exists around the word suicide & mental illness is a silent killer in Ireland. I first came across SOS online and the charity instantly stood out to me. I felt relieved in a sense at finding SOS as they fill a major gap in Ireland’s mental health area with their uniqueness. SOS empowers people to take back control of their own lives through the different services they provide. It is a privilege to be part of such an amazing charity & to work with incredibly passionate people who are persistent in their efforts to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health along with any misconceptions associated to it.”
Natalie Hodgess – Member
- Marketing Manager currently responsible for the Vodafone Ireland Foundation
- 15 years marketing experience spanning legal, telecoms and charity sectors in UK and Ireland
Reason for involvement with SOS: “From the moment I started working with Caroline and the team at SOS on the Talk, Listen, Change programme, I was inspired by the work they do and the practical but caring approach they take. Ireland is losing too many bright young people to suicide and I feel confident that organisations such as SOS can reduce the 2 per day statistic dramatically. I would like to be part of that solution”
The Advisory Panel has continuously supported and encouraged SOS’s Founder in the work of SOS. Their involvement is invaluable to the development of SOS. Its members are:
- Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
- Denis O’ Brien, Founder, Communicorp Group
- Maria Mulcahy, Iris O’Brien Foundation
- Andrina Moore, Iris O’Brien Foundation
- Maurice Healy, CEO, The Healy Group
- Eleanor Farrell – Vodafone Ireland
- Deirdre Moore – AIB
- David Hughes – Vodafone Ireland
- Alan McLean, Partner, Whiteside Cullinan Chartered Accountants
Organisation Development and Advisory Board
- Trudy Hayes – Journalist and Writer
- Michael Nash – Lecturer – Trinity College Dublin
- Nicola Byrne – CEO and Founder of 11890
- Brendan Kennelly – Research Adviser NUI Galway
Miriam Fahey – Bookkeeper
With over 30 years’ experience Miriam has worked as a bookkeeper for charities and NGOs. Miriam is currently helping the organisation maintain accounting books and records.
Reason for involvement: “Most of us know of someone who has struggled with mental illness or a family who has had to cope with the loss of a loved one by suicide. It is gives me great hope that those struggling or in despair have a safe, non-judgemental and professional service to turn to. From first hand experience I can highly recommend the SOS Wellness Workshops and Wellness on-line programme available on the SOS website. I believe in the ethos of SOS, their essential support through the Eden programme and the promotion of wellness in our everyday lives.”
Michael O’Sullivan – HR
- MBS in Human Resources Management
- BA in General Management
- Certificate in Training & Further Education
- Diploma in Employment Law
- Diploma in Mediation & Conflict Resolution
Work as a HR Consultant advising organisations on best practice in the employment and development of staff with the aim of creating greater organisational commitment to goals, vision and organisational mission
Reason for involvement: “I became aware of the work of SOS having met Caroline 8 years ago I am committed to supporting people who strive to help others experience meaning for themselves and their lives. Through my own involvement in supporting the CEO and the organisation it is my hope that it helps it towards extending support to those who seek from SOS assistance in capturing that sense of belonging that all of us need”
Paula Lawlor – National Programme Manager
- Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist
- Founder member, former Chairperson and current Director of Development with the Institute for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Former Senior Psychologist in NLN and Deputy Director of Research and Innovation with the Rehab Group
Reason for involvement with SOS: “I first met Caroline 10 years ago when she was developing the Eden Programme from her kitchen table. I was struck by her passion for, and commitment to changing the way mental health services are configured and delivered based on her own lived experience. I have worked with people experiencing mental health difficulties in a range of settings over a long number of years and have seen how, with services and supports (both formal and informal) that are tailored to meet their specific needs and the encouragement and space to find their own way, they can and do recover. I believe that SOS with its focus on creating an environment where people can find their own voice and develop their own inner strength is a very powerful force for change in the area of mental health and suicide prevention.”
Noeleen Wills – Team Manager
Prior to joining the SOS team Noeleen worked for over 18 years in business development management. Noeleen brings top notch organisational, planning and management skills along with a wealth of knowledge around digital marketing.
Noeleen is also part of our WRAP facilitation team and a qualified psychotherapist.
Reason for involvement in SOS: “I strongly believe that every human being on the planet has mental health and how we look after our own mental health is as individual as our own thumb prints. It is because of this belief that I love working within an organisation that offers programmes filled with practical tools whilst also incorporating stories of hope, possibility and proof that recovery is possible. Every programme that SOS offers has empowerment at it’s core.”
Jacqui Lockhart – Administrator
Jacqui is an experienced administrator and has worked in the corporate environment for over 20 years. Within the SOS team, she works closely on the fundraising / event management side of the organisation.
Reason for involvement in SOS: Initially I began volunteering with SOS and was struck by the fabulous work that Caroline and the team are involved in, and felt privileged to learn about their mission to create a society that views mental health in a very different way . I strongly believe in the SOS message, and feel very grateful to be part of the team.
Allan Howes – Administrator
Allan came to SOS from an administration, customer service and IT background. Allan currently works in the administration of the Wellness Workshop and WRAP programmes along with general support in the office.
Reason for involvement: After spending many years in the corporate environment I took a break and travelled to Central America for a year to volunteer as a school teacher in some of the poorest countries in the world. Helping others became a passion. When I returned to Ireland I decided that I wanted to be part of an organisation that makes a difference to people’s lives. I spent a year and a half looking for something that fits and here I am. It’s truly wonderful to be part of an organisation that strives to help others and to make change in our communities across Ireland
Keith Kelly – Volunteer
I became aware of SOS after getting involved in some fundraising events in my community some years ago. My own mental health has suffered over the yrs and suicide has devastated my own family and community.
The programmes that SOS deliver have helped me personally on my journey. I am being mentored as a WRAP facilitator and will continue to help break down the stigma surrounding Suicide and Mental Health.
Brian Kelly – Eden Programme Facilitator
Brian Kelly is a Husband, a Dad, a Grandad and a qualified reality Therapist, Life and Business Coach, Adult Guidance Counsellor, Founder and CEO of the Hope Centre in Crumlin, Dublin. He is passionate about people having both the opportunity and support to achieve everything that is possible to them and has worked in the area of Mental Health in the non-profit sector for over 23 years. His values and belief in the ability of every human being to experience recovery and live a full and fruitful life motivate his work with SOS.
Reason for involvement in SOS: “My reasons for working with SOS are simple and compelling. I met Caroline several years ago through a mutual friend. Her passion for life and her compassion for people touched me, her life story inspired me and her values matched what I have tried to live and work by for over twenty years. To work with SOS fits and I am grateful for the opportunity to be working alongside people who simply care.”
Patricia Allen-Garrett – Facilitator Eden Programme
- Facilitator, Eden Programme
- Psychotherapist, Hesed House
- Core Tutor, Dublin Therapy & Counselling Centre
- Post Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling
- BS(c) (Hons) Psychology
- Certificate in Sensori-Motor Trauma Therapy
Reason for involvement in SOS: “As a psychotherapist I work with people who show great courage in working through difficult times in their lives – none more so than those who are struggling to stay alive. I believe strongly that the Eden Programme with its emphasis on both education and dialogue can make a difference in the lives of people who have contemplated or attempted suicide. I lost my best friend, Kieran, to suicide in 2008 and understand, on a personal level, the pain that such a loss brings. I am passionate about breaking down the stigma of suicide and am privileged to work with amazing people in SOS.”
Rona McBrierty – WRAP Facilitator
- International Mentor for the Copeland Center
- Intentional Peer support Trainer
- Expert by Experience
Reason for involvement in SOS:” When I was asked to support the further development of WRAP within SOS I did not hesitate to agree because as an organisation they mirror the values and ways of working that I strive to embrace in all aspects of my life and work. I personally believe that we are all experts on our own experience, but through experience, I also know what it feels like when you are in that dark place and see no way to move forward, no possibilities for a future. I am passionate about promoting opportunities that support mutual learning and the development of strong resilient healthy communities where everyone has a sense of belonging and being valued. The work that is being done by SOS not only challenges the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide it also provides opportunities for education, understanding, support, awareness, empowerment and self-determination. The organization offers possibilities for a future where we can create community built on the pillars of wellness-HOPE, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, EDUCATION, SELF-ADVOCACY, and SUPPORT.”
John Pender – WRAP Facilitator and Mentor
John has lived experience of supporting a family member struggling with mental health and suicide and brings this voice to his work. He has experience of running his own business and of managing staff. John has completed basic and advanced level facilitator training with Methal. He is a fully trained and one of Suicide or Survives most experienced WRAP facilitators and mentors, John both facilitates WRAP programmes and mentors other facilitators who are in training. He is an ASIST trainer and delivers this training on contract to the HSE. John is a co-author and facilitator of Suicide or Survive’s Supporters Programme. He is a qualified Acupuncturist and specialises in acupuncture for mental health issues. John has had an active involvement in the area of mental health for 20 years.
Reason for involvement in SOS:” Passionate belief that given the right environment people can take back control of their own lives”
Kahlil Thompson Coyle – WRAP and Wellness Workshop Facilitator
- Kahlil has worked in Ireland for over 12 years in mental health and suicide prevention primarily in the NGO sector and with the HSE. She has edited several publications and is a contributing author on mental health stigma reduction. Kahlil has set up and managed national mental health campaigns and programmes and has project managed service delivery for mental health advocacy in the community, mental health in the workplace training and media monitoring for mental health and suicide prevention. Kahlil holds a Master’s in International Policy Studies with a diploma in Conflict Resolution and is a qualified WRAP facilitator.
Elaine O’Neill – Facilitator Eden Programme
- Eden Programme Graduate
- B.A. in Applied Social Studies in Social Care
- Certificate in Facilitation Skills (Meitheal)
- Certificate in Counselling Skills (NUI Maynooth)
- Mental Health Recovery Including Wellness Recovery Action Planning
Reason for involvement in SOS: “I first got involved with SOS as a participant on the Eden Programme. Being on this unique programme gave me knowledge, understanding and a very different perspective on myself, mental wellbeing and on life. I believe that SOS is an organisation that is part of proactive, positive change in the area of mental health and suicide, so it is an honour to have the opportunity to be now part of something that is so close to my heart. I am particularly passionate about mental health awareness and breaking down the stigma that is associated with mental health challenges. I am privileged to be part of such a wonderful team of people. The attitudes, values, vision and ethos that are within the organisation, always gives me a sense of comfort and connectedness with lots of hope. Hope for a better future in how our mental health is viewed and nurtured especially in times of vulnerability and distress.”
Robert Carley – Strategic Consultant
For a living Robert is a motivational business consultant but for a life he is “Dad” to five amazing young adults. Robert delights in sharing the lessons he has learned in life (through both good times and bad times) and is convinced that learning through laughter is a great recipe for change. Having worked in the corporate world for over 30 years, his experience and knowledge of the pressures and pleasures of gaining a work-life balance have been a major part into his input on the Wellness Workshops.
Ruairí McKiernan – Communications Advisor
Ruairí is the founder of the pioneering SpunOut.ie youth organisation, a co-founder of Uplift, and a Presidential appointee to the Council of State.
Reason for involvement with SOS: “Suicide or Survive place a huge emphasis on the role of the individual in determining their own journey to wellness. Their programmes are focused on personal and community empowerment and helping people realise their innate power to grow and flourish. I love the passion, energy and commitment that the SOS team puts into everything they do. I would love to see their programmes operating in every community in Ireland and it is an honour to be helping spread the word about this great work.
Mick Coughlan – 1960 – 2014
Standing on the shoulders of giants is a term that springs to mind when we remember our late colleague Mick Coughlan. His good humour, wisdom and intuition made him a pillar of our organisation. His ear and heart were always available and his wise counsel was often sought and gratefully received. Mick’s professional input was a key factor in the success of many of our programmes but his personal encouragement and belief in our message was a critical part in our development. His zest for life , his love of family, his cherishing of friendship and his belief that people can and do recover from a mental health challenge made him a role model for all blessed enough to fall into his company. He was a life force, an agent of change and a heart of compassion all rolled into one. Sadly on one of the bright summer days of 2014 that Mick so dearly loved he lost his brave fight with cancer and we each lost a part of us. Mick Coughlan was part of all our families and we miss him so. May he rest in peace.