â€œFor these people, no matter how bad life gets, there are no reasons bad enough to make them do this. If they slept on it or looked for help they could find a solutionâ€.
Sixteen-year-old Kerry teen Donal Walsh, made headlines in April 2013 when he called on young people to stop taking their lives.
Donal was terminally ill with cancer at the time, and sadly, died a month later. But he was not afraid to talk about this issue and how it made him feel, while his life was slipping away. And Donal wanted others to talk too. So it was fitting that his mother Elma Walsh attended a recent suicide awareness evening organised by local group C-SAW (Community Suicide Awareness Workers), in Hotel Minella. Elma and her husband Fionnbar set up the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation to continue Donalâ€™s anti-suicide message, and to raise money to provide age appropriate teenage facilities in hospital and hospice centers around the country.
The eveningâ€™s theme was â€˜Time to Talkâ€™ and Elma was joined by a panel of excellent speakers including Simon Ryan (county chairman, South Tipperary IFA), John Watson and his son Sam (horse breeders and eventers, originally from Clonmel), Noelle Kenny (Talk It Over, in Carlow) and Michael Egan (founder of Living Links).
Addressing the large audience in Clonmel, Elma spoke of how proud she was of Donal and his achievements in his short life, particularly in relation to his anti-suicide plea.
â€œDonal made the most of the life he had and even when he knew the cancer was terminal, he used the media and the opportunity given by Brendan Oâ€™Connor to speak out about how important life is, and how important living it is,â€ she said.
â€œSuicide is a short-lived urge and we need to let chidren know from a very young age that, in Donalâ€™s words, no matter how bad life is, there is no reason bad enough to make them do this. If they slept on it, or looked for help, they could find a solution and they need to think of the consequences of what they are about to do.
Sam Watson spoke openly and tenderly about the suicide of his best friend seven years ago and how it profoundly changed his life.
â€œFor me it was the incomprehension, we always confided in each other, talked about everything, at breakfast, on the bus into college, at lectures, at lunch, in the pub. Why didnâ€™t unhappiness and depression ever come up?â€ he asked. It made Sam realise the importance of talking about his feelings when life gets tough. â€œI go and talk to someone else, and I wouldnâ€™t be ashamed of it, and I wouldnâ€™t be afraid of it. I think it is good to be open about it, admit it to people so that they too, feel that they can do the same.â€