THE MAYOR of Limerick has again spoken publicly of his battle with depression and thoughts of suicide to encourage others at risk to seek support.
Speaking in City Hall, as the charity Console celebrated 10 years in existence, the Mayor and former rugby player said his “world fell apart 12 years ago”. “I was suicidal - I have no problem in saying that. I was in a state of depression where I couldn’t get off the couch or meet people or talk to anyone.
“Luckily I didn’t have to resort to any medication, and it was all because a particular lady helped me in the hospital and understood the symptoms I had. I’ll never forget her and pray for her every day. She helped me get out of where I was and all I needed was someone to give me a boost. I understand what people are going though. It can hit us at any moment. Right now I do a lot of meditation, which I really believe in, and I’m thankful to God for my health. I was lucky I met someone who was able to turn it around for me and it didn’t take long. I’d just like to tell people that their lives will change. We need to raise as much awareness as possible because every little helps,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Paul Kelly, the founder of Console, which offers support for those at risk of suicide and self harm and counselling for bereaved families, said it is “worrying” that they now have waiting lists to see counsellors in Limerick for the first time. However, Mr Kelly, who founded Console in 2002 after his 21 year-old sister Sharon died by suicide, said support is always available for those in crisis situations. “At the time, 10 years ago, there was very little support there for families who had been bereaved and I saw how my mum and dad were vulnerable,” he said.
Both his parents died shortly afterwards, as he believes they were devastated by the loss, felt they had failed her and “wanted to be with their daughter”.
It costs €250,000 per annum to run their Limerick services, and they receive just €18,000 from the Health Service Executive, making fundraising efforts vital to keep services available to meet growing demand. Mayor McLoughlin said the services Console provides “are essential for vulnerable people who through no fault of their own need support.” “The service and the people who support them really are to be commended. We are duty bound to help those in vulnerable positions, so I’m delighted to host Console here today and make people more aware of the role they’re playing here in Limerick,” said the Mayor.
He said he is concerned about the rise in suicide in Limerick, particularly amongst young men, who may feel it’s a “taboo subject” to speak out their issues. “Life is becoming more difficult for a lot of people, and the whole Celtic Tiger has thrown up new situations for people that we haven’t had to deal with before. I hope the organisation really grows from strength to strength” he said.
Console in Limerick can be contacted on 061 306792, or the helpline on 1800 201 890