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  1. 1. 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