Heroic Limerick teenager calls for greater awareness around suicide

Jennifer Purcell

Reporter:

Jennifer Purcell

Nineteen-year-old hero Shauna O'Riordan from Farranshone, Limerick who talked a suicidal man down from Sarsfield Bridge, has called for greater awareness around depression and suicide issues   Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22
The young woman who talked a man down from the bridge last Wednesday when he threatened to take his own life has called for greater awareness around suicide.

The young woman who talked a man down from the bridge last Wednesday when he threatened to take his own life has called for greater awareness around suicide.

The Limerick Leader broke news of Shauna O’Riordan’s intervention shortly after, but the 19-year-old has since spoken out appealing for people to “seek help and support”.

“Suicide is not the answer,” she said as she explained the event as it unfolded, “Everything happened so fast,I was holding onto him for dear life, I was trying my best. I did not know what to say but thankfully everything I did worked.”

Shauna said she dropped all her shopping bags as soon as she saw him get up on the ledge. “I just burst into tears, I was shaking, I’ve never been in that situation before so I had to think, ‘What is the best possible way I could help this man?’ I had to try get into his mindset.”

Speaking on Live 95fm with Joe Nash, Shauna said she remembered looking around and no one was there to help her, “ I thought to myself, is this the world we live in? Is this what’s going on?”

Despite receiving huge support from the public for her swift action, she hopes that anyone in that situation would do the same thing. “I thought to myself either I go with you or I have to let you go. I was holding his legs so I said, if I let go, how could I ever get over that? Because then and there, his life was in my hands.”

Shauna was shocked at all of those who passed by, “people could have thought he was a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or that we were just a young couple arguing,” she said,” but at the end of the day, someone was still up on that bridge.”

When the man got down off the bridge, people started to form a circle around him. “I was trying to get them away,” recalls Shauna, “This isn’t a circus, this man needs help.”

The courageous teenager had already pulled the man down from the bridge twice but her strength finally gave up just as the two helpers arrived. The part-time shop worker said she hoped her story would raise awareness of people battling with their mental health. “There is help and there is support, whether people think it or not.

Not everyone has family and friends but there’s help lines you can ring, and there are people you can talk to. “Depression and suicide is on the rise, it’s not getting any better,” she said. “Not everyone has a person that they can pick up the phone to and ring, just to talk to. It’s so important to have someone there,” she said.