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Interview with Waterford News & Star about impact of suicide

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  1. 1. ���� �� ��� ���� �� ���������� �������� ���� ��� ����� ��������������������� ����� ������ �������������� ������ �� ������ ���� �� ��� ��� ����� ������� �������������� ������ ������� ������ ������� ������ ����� ���� � ��������� ����� �������� ����� ���� ����������� ���� ����� ��� ��������� ��������� ��� ������������ ����������� � ��������� ��������� ��� ����� ���� ������ ��� ������� ���� ������ ������ �� ������ ���� �� ��� ��� ������� ��������� ��� ������ ��� ���� ��� �����Waterford United beginsearch for new managerWATERFORD SPORTTuesday, May 21st, 2013 Price €2/UK£1.9035May 21, 2013WELL!WELL!Street StyleHealthWhat’s Hot/What’s NotEntertainmentARTSFood & MoviesGardeningTravelp2p3p4..5p6p7p8p10p11streetstyleWithAGNES STENCELofVintage TrigPAGES 4 & 5PAGE 2Grace Fox and Robyn Flynn, at theunveiling of the community muralat Kilcohan organised by theSacred Heart Community ActionGroup. Photo: Joe EvansWellWellMagazineFREEINSIDE• Food• Mum’sthe Word• MoviesCOMMUNIONS &CONFIRMATIONSPages 30, 31, 76, 77 and 94RoadbackfromAddictionPage 15YOUTHAWARDSpgs 34 & 71Noctor’sWordPAGE 82By Mary Ellen BreenMMAAGGSS DDuurraanndd OO’’CCoonnnnoorrwwaass bbeerreeaavveedd bbyy ssuuiicciiddeettwwiiccee iinn tthhee ssppaaccee ooff 1122mmoonntthhss.. HHeerr hhuussbbaanndd,,DDoonnaall,, aanndd hheerr bbrrootthheerr,,KKeenn,, wweerree bbootthh jjuusstt 3322wwhheenn tthheeyy ddiieedd..Theyarejustafractionofthe number of Waterfordpeople, men in particular,who die by suicide on anannualbasis,withthemostrecent CSO figures reveal-ing that 15 people fromWaterford ended their lifein2011,anincreaseon2010figures.Thesuddendeathsof these two men, so lovedbyher,hasleftMagswithagnawinggriefandanambi-tion to stop other peoplefrom going down the sameroute.“Thedevastationitleavesbehind,Idon’tthinkanyonewho takes their life realisesthat,”shesaid.“For people who arethinking of suicide I begthem to talk to someoneand try and get past it.Things will always get bet-ter.”SPECIAL REPORTPAGES 12 & 13WRH FUTURE - Coverage and Analysisof Higgins Report - Pages 4 to 6Left behindMags and Donal ontheir wedding day.THE DEVASTATION OF SUICIDE
  2. 2. 12 SPECIAL REPORT: SUICIDE Waterford News & StarMay 21, 2013��������� ����������� ����� ���� ��������������� ����������������������� ����� �� ��� ��� ������������������������������ ���� �� ��� ��� ������� ���������� ��� ������� ��� ������� ����������������� ��������� ��� ��������������� ���� ������ � ����������� � ����������������� �������� �������� � ������ ������ ����� � ������ ����� � ���������� ������ ���� � ������ � ���������� ����� �������� �������������������� ����� � ����� ��� ������������������� ����� � ��� ���� �������� �������������������� � �������� � ������������������ �� ������ ������� ����������� ��� ��� ������������SUICIDE knocked on thedoorofMagsDurandO’Con-nor’slife,notonce,buttwice,in the space of one year.TragedyfirststruckwhenherbrotherKenDuranddiedjustseven days before Christmasin 2010. In November 2011she found her beloved hus-band Donal dead in thehousetheyshared,shatteringherlifeforasecondtime.Mags, from Ballybeg, metDonal in 2004 through herbrother Ken, affectionatelyknown as Nen. They were ata party and connectedimmediately, and soon afterbecameacouple.“DonalandNenhadacou-ple of qualities in common.They were both huge bigmen, both over 6ft. But theywere both big cuddly men,loversnotfighters.Theywerereally generous, irreverentandverydirect.Apartyliter-allydidn’tstartuntiltheboysarrived.Thethreeofusdidalot together,” Mags recalledwithasmile.Donal, originally fromDunmore East, sufferedheartachein2007,whenthePereCharlessankandhelosthisfatherBilly.“That was a very difficulttimeforhimastheynevergothis body back,” Magsrecalled.However,therewashappinessforthecouple,asayear after the tragedy DonalproposedandathrilledMagsaccepted.“At that stage he had got-tenovertheworstanditwasareallyhappytimeforus.Weactually had our first foreignholiday that year. While wewere away he disappearedone morning and he rangme. He was after getting myinitials tattooed on his neck.It was lovely because wecouldn’taffordtogetmarriedstraight away and that washis way of showing his com-mitment,”shesaid.TRAGEDYOneMay15,2010thepairtied the knot. Seven monthslater, on December 17, Magsyounger brother Ken wasfound dead in his home inBallybeg.Hehaddiedbysui-cide.“Itwasashockbecausehehad been such a ball of life,”Mags said, recalling herbrother’s love of motorbikesandsenseoffun.“He was having someproblems, was under a lot ofpressure and in a toxic rela-tionship that was very dam-aging. Now it was just for aperiodofsixweeks,itwasn’tan extended period ofdepression. It was six weekswhere we all knew he wasdown.“Theweekbeforehedied,I remember saying to Donal,I think he’s turned a cornerbecause he seemed moreupbeat. Now, through theresearch I’ve done, I’velearned that he had come tohis decision. The researchsays it’s because that personis at peace with their choice(that they appear positive),but everyone around themthinksthey’regoingtobeok.”NO INDICATIONItwouldbelessthanayearbefore Mags found her hus-band dead upstairs in theirhouseinClonardPark,Bally-beg.“There wasn’t a period ofhim being down. There wasno real indication,” she said,althoughsherecognisesthatthere were some pressuresthathewasfacing.“Hewasworkinginsecuri-tyandhelosthisjob.Hewasprobably feeling the loss ofNenanddidn’twanttoputitover on me. I do think therewas a strain from that andobviouslyfromhisfatherandlosinghisjob,butIdothinkitwas a spur of the momentthing. It’s like somethingsnapped. There was nothingdifferentintermsofhisusualroutine. It’s not like it wasplanned.“My birthday is at the endofNovemberandhehadputawayapresentforme.WhenI first started going out withhimIhadthisreallynastylit-tlewatchandhefeltsorryforme so for every birthday wewere together he bought meawatch.Weusedtojokethatbythetimewewereoldwe’dhavethishousethatjustwent‘ticktock’.Hehadbeenplan-ningonbeingaroundformybirthdayandIstilltothisdaycan’t get my head aroundthat.”Not only that but Magshad been offered a job inDungarvan Enterprise Cen-tre, where she is currentlyemployed,justbeforehediedandthecouplehaddiscussedmovingtoDungarvan.“Wehadbeenplanningforthe future,” she said, as sheheld onto an anniversarycard given to her by her hus-band earlier that year, inwhichhesaidhewaslookingforward to many more yearstogether.With emotion weighingheavily on her voice, sherecalled the morning shefoundDonal.“He’dhadafewdrinksthenight before. I was down-stairsinthelivingroomandIhadabadfeelinginmystom-ach.ItkillsmetothisdayasIwas watching television,thinking I’ll leave him sleep.It went past 2pm and Ithought he would always beupbynow.Ifinallyventuredin and found him. I tried toget him to wake up but hewas obviously dead,” shesaid, her eyes filling withtears.The rest is much of a blurfor Mags, but the impactremainsclear18monthson.“I was stunned. It’s likeyou’re after getting hit by atruck. It’s very hard tobelieve, and the first feelingthat hits you is guilt, straightoveryou.“Donal had such a greatrelationship with his motherand I kept saying to the Gar-dai, no, he wouldn’t do thatto her. I could not computeand to this day I still can’tcompute,”shesaid.Mags said the pair spokeconstantly and she felt shekneweverythingabouthim.“We used to make peoplesick. We went into our ownbubblewhenweweretogeth-er. I thought we told eachother everything, we spokeeveryday. From October 7 toOctober 31 I had 1,288 mes-sagesonthephonefromhim.That’s a lot, considering thatwe were living with eachother. We spoke all day,everyday.”DEVASTATIONShe said the bereavementexperienced following a sui-cideisdevastating.“The devastation it leavesbehind, I don’t think anyonewho takes their life realisesthat. It’s a different bereave-ment to losing someone byan illness. The fact that theychosetodieissohardtoswal-lowanditleavesyouwithsomanyquestions.“You replay every conver-sation that you ever had.Could I have done more?Should I have done more?Couldn’thetalktome?CouldI have made more time forhim?CouldIhavestoppedit,basically?“You want to think youcouldhavemadeadifferenceand the guilt is very hard tocarry. Sometimes it literallyeatsatyou.“There’s also the shock,thesheerhorrorofitandthesadness that they couldn’tstay. You know they lovedyou but it’s hard to get intotheirstateofmind.”From speaking to thosewho have made attempts attheir life, Mags has learnedthatinmanycasestheydon’tthinkaboutthefinalityoftheact.“I spoke to one man whohad six failed attempts and Iasked him what he wasthinkingofatthetimeandhesaid just getting away fromthe pain. He said he didn’tthink of living or dying, butjust stopping the pain thattakesoverhisbody.”PLEA“Forpeoplewhoarethink-ingofsuicideIwouldjustbegthemtotalktosomeoneandtryandgetpastit.Thingswillalwaysgetbetter.Lifegoesincycles.There’sanexpression,thingswillneverbeasbadasthis and things will never beas good as this. Life is madeup of cycles. You need to beresilient enough to get pastthebad.Iknowit’snoteasyifyour mind is not set for it.There’s something out thereforeveryone.“The devastation it leavesbehind, I don’t think anyonewho takes their life realisesthat.Researchshows,thatforeverypersonthatdiesbysui-cidethere’ssixpeopleaffect-ed, deeply affected. That’ssevenlives,ifyouincludetheperson who’s gone, that’ssevenlivesdevastated.“People need to under-stand that they are valued.Peopleneedtothinkofthosearound them, I know peoplein that state of mind don’tthinkthatway,theyprobablythink people will be betteroff.Ifyoucouldgetpeopletobe mindful enough beforethey get depressed that mayhelp.“I do think I learned a lotfromhim.HegavemealotofthingswhenhewashereandLeft behindMAGS Durand O’Connor was bereaved by suicide twice in the space of 12 months. Herhusband and her brother were both just 32 when they died some months apart. Hereshe talks to reporter MMaarryy EElllleenn BBrreeeenn about the sheer horror of finding a loved one whohas died by suicide, coping with the devastating loss and urges those feeling suicidal toseek help or simply talk.Donal O’Connor and Ken (Nen) Durand
  3. 3. By Mary Ellen BreenHELP is there is the messageof the Resource Officer forSuicidePreventioninWater-ford to those contemplatingsuicide as a solution to life’sproblems. With statisticsshowing an annual increasein death by suicide in Water-ford, Sean McCarthy isimploringthosewithdifficul-ties to avail of the serviceslocally, with new supportsalsoduetocomeonstream.The latest CSO statisticsshow that 15 people inWaterfordendedtheirlifebysuicide in 2011, 13 of thesewere males. The previousyear 11 men died by suicideand two females, withnational statistics also con-firming that males are mostlikelytodieinthismanner.Mr McCarthy praised theefforts of Tralee’s DonalWalsh, a teenage cancer suf-ferer who prior to his deathcampaigned against suicide,forhisdeterminationtoraiseawarenessonthesubject.“Hewasayoungmanwhomade a lot of effort to raiseawareness of the issue, par-ticularlyamongstyoungpeo-ple. I support all of that, andparticularly his message forpeople to reach out and gethelp. That help is there.There’s a number of servicesthat were not here previous-ly, now coming on stream,”hesaid.Outlining those servicesavailable locally, MrMcCarthy said a new servicethathascomeintoWaterfordistheSelfHarmInterventionProgrammeforpeopleexpe-riencing suicidal ideation orthe impulse to self-harm.PilotedinWexford,itprovedto be working well and hassince been rolled out inWaterford.A Counselling in PrimaryCare service, available bydoctors’ referral, will be upand running this summer,whileSquashyCouch,situat-ed on the Mall, is a servicedirectly aimed at teenagersand offers a relaxed settingwhereby young people candrop in and speak about anyissuestheymayhave.A suicide bereavementsupport group also meetsevery second Tuesday at theSt John’s Pastoral Care Cen-treat7.30pm.Mr McCarthy said, “Thereareawiderangeofservicesinthe Waterford area and peo-ple need to reach out andseekhelp.Thenumberofsui-cidesweseethroughtheCSOfigures are remaining uparound the 500 figure annu-ally.Eachoneisatragedyandwe are concerned about theimpact that figure is havingonapersonbeforetheydie.”He said a death by suicidehas a huge impact in a com-munity,“Ithasahugeimpacton a wide range of people,from family to friends, col-leagues and people in thewidercommunity.Itcantakeyears for people to come totermswiththat;thenegativeimpactofasuicideishuge.“Over the last number ofmonths the message has gotouttherethatit’soknottobeok. Everyone has problemsand difficulties and if youreachoutandgetsupportyoumaynotneedtogodownthatroadofstruggling.Alltheini-tiativesputinplacearethereto try and alleviate and to dosomething about the contin-uing high figures in relationtosuicide,”hesaid.FFoorr mmoorree iinnffoorrmmaattiioonn oonnaannyy ooff tthhee sseerrvviicceess aavvaaiillaabblleeccoonnttaacctt tthhee RReeggiioonnaall SSuuiicciiddeePPrreevveennttiioonnOOffffiiccee,,JJoohhnn’’ssHHiillll,,oonn((005511))887744001133..SPECIAL REPORT: SUICIDE 13Waterford News & StarMay 21, 2013it’s a shame, more than that,it’s devastating that he’s nothere anymore. I wish heknew how much he gave tomeandhowmuchhegavetohisfriendsandhowmuchhewillneverbeforgotten.”BEREAVEMENTHer wedding anniversaryfell last week and Mags saidit renewed her grief oncemore.“There is an element of Ishouldn’t have to do this. Ibrought a plant out to hisgraveforouranniversaryandIfeltIshouldbegettingflow-ers for my anniversary, notbringing them to his grave.People do go through such awide range of emotions. Itcanbetwostepsforwardandone step back. On Wednes-day I was a gibbering wreckand I’m very wobbly thisweek. You wonder will yoube pulled back all throughyourlifeandIthinkIwillandI think people need to beawareofthat.Thisparticulartypeofgrief,thequestioningitbrings,ishardtodealwith.“I have a pain in my heartsince December 2010. Itnever goes away. It flares upworse on certain dates andgoes between my heart andstomach. It’s always thereand I carry it all the time. Allittakesisasong,orsomeoneto say something. My broth-er’s expression was “Standyour ground” and someonesaid that the other day and Iburst out crying. It’s littlethingsthattriggeramemory.COPINGMags sought the help of aprofessional counsellor tocope with her bereavementand she writes in a gratitudediary every week. She isdeterminedtolivethelifeshehas in memory of those thataregone.“I’m very lucky in that mydefault state is happy. I canstay positive. When Donaldied I decided I would trysomethingneweverymonth,I’d never turn down an invi-tation and I raise awarenessfor suicide and try and helppeopleifIcan.“My whole life was him.My social circle was him andNen and they are both gone.I could have ended up verylonely.Ihadachoice.Icouldsit and rot or I can choose tolive.Theboyswouldwantmetolive.AndsoIdo.”She continued, “Life is agift.Regretisanemptyemo-tion,it’snatural,butyouhavetofightthatandtheguiltoritwilleatyouup.Thebestwaytorememberthatpersonistolive your life and keep theirmemoryalive.”While she accepts thatwhatworksforhermightnotwork for someone else, sheasks people not to discard amethod of help before theytryit.“I didn’t find a solutionstraight away. I had to tinkerwithit.Justbecauseitworksfor one person doesn’t meanitworksforeveryone.It’sjustto get you back on an evenkeel.”SUPPORTMags, who will run thesecond Donal O’ConnorMemorial Cycle on Septem-ber 14 this year to continueon her quest to raise aware-ness, also speaks to thosewhoareonasimilarjourneyand those feeling suicidal.She has completed a SafeTalkprogrammeandSuicideAssist Programme, whichhelpsherrecognisethesignsof someone feeling suicidalandalsoequipsherwithhowtotalktothatperson.Sheiscontactablethroughthe Facebook page Water-ford555, which she isinvolvedinwithShirleyMor-rissey, who also lost a familymembertosuicide.Donal Mags and Donal on their wedding dayHELP IS AVAILABLECaredoc (Out of hours GP): 1850 334999Samaritans: 1850 60 90 901Life Suicide Help: 1800 247100Console: 1800 201890Aware: 1890 303302Farm & Rural StressHelpline: 1800 742645MABS: 1890 283438New services to tackle growing number of suicidesSean McCarthy, SuicidePrevention Resource OfficerLife’s challengescan be conqueredBy Mary Ellen BreenANEWserviceavailabletothosewithsuicidalideationshas“saved lives”, according to feedback received from partici-pants.AtholHenwick,Co-ordinatoroftheSelfHarmInter-vention Programme (SHIP), said 69 people in WaterfordwerereferredtotheserviceduringitsfirstyearinWaterfordin2012,andfeedbackfrommanyhasbeenverypositive.“We have got feedback from people and a lot of it isextremelypositive.Somepeoplesaidithassavedtheirlives,that’saverystrongstatementtomake,”hesaid.The programme became available in Waterford and theSouth East in 2012 and participants are referred by a rele-vant health care professional. The person must opt into theprogramme and once they indicate their willingness, theyareseenbyacounsellor.Upto12sessionsareavailableandifongoingworkisrequiredtheindividualwillbereferredtoanotheragency.Speakingabouttheissuesthatcanaffectpeople,MrHen-wick said, “The current economic climate presents peoplewithalotofchallenges.Relationshipissuesandselfesteemissuescanalsopresentdifficulties.”Hesaidthesessionshelppeopletodealwiththeirpartic-ular issue, through working on self-esteem, finding a newcopingstrategyotherthanself-harmandworkingoutfinan-cialdifficulties.“A problem can seem overwhelming if you are dealingwith it alone. We encourage people to work through theirproblems and find that solution. I know people think whatgood will talking do, but you won’t know until you give it atry.Helpisavailableandcanbeavailablereasonablyquick-ly.” For more information on this service you can contactAtholon0872586028duringworkinghours.Counselling in Primary Care is a new service, which willbe up and running in Waterford this summer. It is aimed atmedical cardholders and people must be referred throughtheir GP. Miriam Barrow, Counselling Co-ordinator for theSouth East, said it has been recognised that the service isneeded. “It has been in operation in North Dublin and hasbeenverysuccessful.ThereisageneralneedforthisandGPsfeel there is a need to have a counselling service availableandaimedatmedicalcardholders.”She said the service, which will offer an assessment ses-sionfollowedbyuptoeightcounsellingsessions,willbeupandrunningacrosstheSouthEastsoon.“WeareatthestageofrecruitingtherapistsandtalkingtoGPs and the service will be up and running nationally overthesummer.”