Peer to Peer Pastoral Care, Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Support

Eureka Secondary School, Kells, Co. Meath have kindly shared with us the following article on Threads - Peer to Peer Pastoral Care, Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Support in the school.

"Threads originated as a pro-active response to suicide prevention in our school community in September 2005 after the death of one of our students. It is a form of peer to peer ministry – one branch of the overall Pastoral Care System in our school.

Peer to peer ministry is ideal as it is based on the understanding that young people create their own worlds often separate from parents and teachers in which they negotiate their problems and difficulties and try to solve them on their own or with their friends.












Threads work quietly in the school to watch out for anyone who might be vulnerable, isolated or in need of a little support. They are a listening ear among their peers, helping to pick up on those who might be either at risk to themselves or simply on their own at breaktimes, vulnerable on the school bus or having suffered a family bereavement.

The Pastoral Care Team invites students with the appropriate gifts and maturity to become part of Threads.

Students may also be recommended by staff and are primarily drawn from the Senior Cycle.

The Role of Threads

The Role of Threads, while always linked to their original task of pro-active suicide prevention is flexible and evolving, and tries to adapt as needs arise. One member of the Pastoral Care Team will link with Threads and appoint two thread members to make contact with a vulnerable student.

The Threads might join a student in the canteen at Breakfast Club in the morning before school or accompany a student in the yard at lunchtime. Another important role of Threads is in the area of bereavement support. A Thread links up with students who have experienced bereavement ensuring that they are okay and feedback
information to the Pastoral Care Team. The link will be continued until it is no longer needed.













Threads are themselves a community who develop friendships among themselves and reach out to others who might be in need. They meet once a fortnight at lunch time, and check-in with the co-ordinator at any time as the need arises.


Threads have a formation day early in September usually held in An Tober, Ardbraccan, Navan. This is vital for planning the year ahead, organising and clarifying our role and our way forward. (An Tobar has a lake and forest walk as well as self-catering facilities and a small conference room which is ideal for a reflective day of formation together).

Another element of formation comes from the teaching and learning of a change and loss module,
Michael Ryan’s excellent Module ‘Living with Change & Loss’, a life-skills programme from Mid to Late Teens, published by the Irish Association of Pastoral Care Education, Marino Institute of Education, Griffith Avenue, Dublin 9.Tel: 01-8057785  Web: 












Suicide Prevention

Being proactive around suicide prevention is essentially about awareness. Students can often pick up on another student who might be self-harming and intervention can be quietly arranged for counselling, etc, through the Pastoral Care Team if that is what is needed. The threads motto is “a listening ear”.

Threads are taught to be aware of some of the possible signs of people at risk:

  • Sudden change in personality/behaviour
  • Giving away personal items
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Statements of intent of suicide
  • Practicing or attempting suicide

Threads are not Prefects or Mentors. Their role is wider and deeper. Wider in that they come from the whole school community, peer to peer, pastoral care, bereavement support and suicide prevention, deeper as they are linked to the Pastoral Care Team as part of the overall system".

They are also linked with Samaritans text service, Rainbows and Citizen’s Information Centre. Threads continue to evolve...Why not set up a Threads group yourself?

For further information contact Kevin Mallen at the Eureka Secondary School. Email: or