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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 & John Pender – Founders



“Because we truly, truly care” – Caroline McGuigan

“Passionate belief that given the right environment, people can take back control of their own lives” – John Pender

Helen Allen – Director and Secretary

Helen is a strong community activist and is immersed in local community activities. She founded and participated in a Community Co-op and is a member of Women’s Action Network. Helen has been involved with Suicide or Survive since its foundation in a variety of roles, most recently as Director and Secretary. Helen brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the organisation helping to ensure everything we do remains grounded and true to its roots and how and why the organisation was set up.

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”

Pippa Woolnough – Director

  • Currently Communications & Advocacy Manger with the Immigrant Council of Ireland
  • Previously spent five years with Amnesty International Ireland working on its mental health and human rights campaign and worked in Barnardos Ireland.
  • Social justice campaigner and human rights activist with ten 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.” 

Melissa Bosch – Director

Melissa is Diversity, Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility strategist and advocate with over 10 years Financial Services experience. She strives for a world where equality, participation and belonging are valued, championed and celebrated. She has worked on a number of innovative and impactful strategic projects that resulted in significant positive change for marginalised groups. 

Reason for involvement with SOS: “My ethos is seeded in the African philosophy of Ubuntu –  the universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. I firmly believe that incredible things happen when people feel valued, empowered and included.  Through my own journey of self-discovery and self-awareness I know that mental health is not something people can talk about comfortably. They feel it’s something to avoid. I believe that the programmes and support that SOS provides helps break-down those barriers, and encourages people to understand the bestway to manage their own mental well-being.Through education and breaking down the stigma we can help ourselves and others live a better quality of life. I’m privileged that in my roles I get to influence the systems and practices that support unlocking individual, community and organisational potential by striving for equality, empowerment and inclusion.“

Simon Daly – Director

Simon has worked in the Information Technology sector for 20 years, seeking to understand the challenges faced by organisations & to help those organisations understand how technology solutions can help to solve their issues, empower their employees, engage their customers & transform their services. Simon uses this experience to also help the charity sector & has been involved in volunteering & directly supporting many charities over the past 2 decades.

Reason for involvement in SOS:

“I feel that suicide & self harm is sadly all too common in our society. I have lost friends to suicide & rarely a month goes by without hearing another story of how friends or family have been tragically impacted. I first met Caroline around 2010 / 2011 & I was hugely impressed by her spirit, openness & her warmth. I was lucky enough to sponsor & attend some Wellness Workshops at that time & to really get to know Caroline & the wider SOS family. I have always loved the collaborative approach taken by SOS to promote their vision & to deliver their wonderful services & I’m hugely proud to have been considered for a role on the Board, through which I can play my part in breaking the stigma around suicide, self harm & mental health challenges & to contribute towards making our society better.”

Aoife Ní Mhurchú – Director

Aoife has over 10 years’ experience HR Management, employee engagement, talent management and organisation development, design and change. She held senior HR positions in Topaz Energy Ltd (now known as Circle K Ireland) before taking up her current role as Head of HR for Sky Ireland in September 2016. Aoife is a Chartered member of the CIPD and holds a BA in Social Science from University College Dublin and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business studies from the National College of Ireland.

Reason for Involvement with SOS:

I was first introduced to Suicide or Survive when a cross functional team in Sky choose SOS as their charity partner. Our ambition at the time was to try and change the culture that surrounds mental health in the workplace by specifically opening up more conversations around mental health, equipping managers to be more effective in dealing with mental health and ultimately breaking down the stigma that stops people seeking help when they might need it most. I have had the privilege to see firsthand the massive positive impact the partnership with SOS has delivered to Sky and our colleagues. I have also personally benefited from lots of learning through my varied conversations with the wonderful SOS team and from attending the various workshops and programmes. I was genuinely honored to be asked to join the Board of SOS as I truly believes in their ethos, values and work. There is a role to play for every single person in suicide prevention and being an active member of the SOS team is a small way for me to do my part”.

Tracey Carney – Director

Tracey Carney is currently Director of Communications with Premier Publishing & Events and previous to that she worked as Events Director with Ashville Media Group. Tracey also lectures with Fitzwilliam Institute in event management and production, and the students run live fundraising events in aid of SOS each year.

Reason for involvement in SOS:

“I genuinely believe in the work SOS do, and I think it is so important to have a mental health plan, to know and expect bad days because no one is immune to them. Prevention through knowledge is key, and I love working with Caroline and the team they make everything fun and engaging.

A close friend of mine was affected by suicide when I was 18, at the time I did not have the tools or the language to help them, but thanks to SOS, I do now.

Having first heard of SOS when I got invited to the annual luncheon in 2013 – I have been back every year since it’s a great day. SOS quickly became my charity partner, and I tried to include them where I could, through my events and Fitzwilliam Institute, and it is an excellent fit for the students as they learn about mental health and gain live event experience”.

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.”

Having first heard of SOS when I got invited to the annual luncheon in 2013 – I have been back every year since it’s a great day. SOS quickly became my charity partner, and I tried to include them where I could, through my events and Fitzwilliam Institute, and it is an excellent fit for the students as they learn about mental health and gain live event experience”.

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”

Advisory Panel

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 Eden Programme Manager

  • Psychologist
  • 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.”

Catherine Redmond – National Programmes Co-ordinator

  • Certificate in Facilitation Skills (Meitheal)
  • Certificate in Addiction Studies (National University of Ireland Maynooth)
  • Diploma in Adult Guidance and Counselling (National University of Ireland Maynooth)
  • Certificate in First Line Management (Institute of Leadership and Management)
  • Qualified Restorative Practitioner

Catherine joined SOS in January 2018, she has 13 years’ experience working at a senior management level in the field of Drug Rehabilitation. Catherine brings with her a wealth of experience of working within the community sector and is passionate about working in this area

“I attended a Wellness Workshop back in 2012 and was blown away by what I seen as a new and innovative approach to mental health services. I knew then that I wanted to be involved in SOS in some way. I am proud to be part of an amazing team of people who are so committed to working with people and meeting them where they are at in their lives. To be a small part of someone’s life journey is a very humbling experience and something that I am very proud of.”

Noeleen Wills – WRAP Facilitator

  • Psychotherapist
  • WRAP Facilitator

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.”

Keith Kelly – WRAP Facilitator

Keith has a background in construction and has always been active in his own community. He is currently furthering his education by participating in the Certificate in Counselling Skills in Maynooth University. He is a trained WRAP facilitator and is a member of the Suicide or Survive WRAP facilitator panel. Keith is a passionate community activist around mental health and suicide prevention.

Keith also volunteers with Suicide or Survive and is a valued member of the administration team in this capacity.

Reason for Involvement in SOS:
“I became aware of Suicide or Survive a number of years ago after getting involved in some fundraising events in my community. My own mental health has suffered over the years and I have first-hand experience of the impact of suicide in both my own family and my community. The programmes delivered by SOS have helped me personally on my own journey to wellness and I am passionate about breaking down the stigma around suicide and mental health.”

Brian Kelly – Eden Programme Co-ordinator & Wellness Workshop 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 – Eden Programme & Wellness Workshop Facilitator

  • 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 – Advanced WRAP Facilitator and International Mentor for the Copeland Centre

  • 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.”

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 – Eden Programme Facilitator

  • 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.

Ruairi McKiernan – Communications Advisor

Ruairí is the founder of the pioneering 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.

Mental Health Organisation Suicide or Survive – 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.