A Limerick mother's funeral plea after son's body taken from river

'Derek was failed by mental health service': Majella Cosgrove

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

A Limerick mother's funeral plea after son's body taken from river

Majella Cosgrove walks behind the coffin carrying Derek, below

THE MOTHER of a young man whose body was recovered from the River Shannon in Limerick has spoken at his funeral Mass of how her son was “failed by the mental health service.”

In a soul-stirring address from the altar of St Munchin’s Church in Limerick this Wednesday, Majella Cosgrove said her son had been “failed by the very system that was supposed to help him”.

At the end of the funeral Mass for the 30-year-old “gentle soul” Ms Cosgrove of Clareview took her place at the pulpit. She straightened her spine. She strengthened her soft voice.

“This has been very difficult to write, and the next part, I am conscious and aware that it might be difficult for people to listen to,” Ms Cosgrove stated after thanking all those “who have been on this journey with us”.

Derek, Ms Cosgrove explained, had suffered a psychotic episode about three years ago. He was diagnosed with depression.

“He had been doing so well over the past year. He was determined to get work - he was sending out CVs everywhere and he had just started an online course,” she explained.

Derek, Ms Cosgrove  told mourners, wanted to be more alert during the day so he could concentrate, and this resulted in a change of medication “which led to sleepless nights, anxiety and fear.

“Did the people who jumped from the Twin Towers on 9/11 want to end their lives? Would you say that they died by suicide?” Ms Cosgrove asked aloud.

She said the answer was the same for “my Derek who jumped because he was more terrified of the flames - the flames which were inside his own head which family and friends could not extinguish.

“He’s at peace now,” she said, turning to her left where the coffin of her son stood.

Continuing her address, Ms Cosgrove described mental health as a condition that is “stigmatised”.

“We have services here in Ireland that are supposed to support us - the mental health service, which Derek and I trusted and they let us down. Derek is gone. He was failed by the very system that was supposed to help him.”

Derek entered the River Shannon on December 16 last. Crews from Limerick Marine Search and Rescue who had been carrying out searches throughout Christmas and over the New Year, located his body shortly before 2.30pm this Monday.

“In society, we are all affected by suicide,” Ms Cosgrove continued. “We hear the helicopters and it sends chills down us. We see search and rescue boats. We see candles, flowers placed on bridges. Why are Irish families suffering in silence? What can we do? Why is it being accepted? Why does our mental health service not have proper supports in place? Why is medication not more closely monitored? Why is funding not a priority set by our government?

“Is the answer a simple one? Is it because people suffering with mental health issues have no voice? They have no voice. They have no power.”

The mother then turned to her left once more and uttered the words: “Sleep well,Derek.”

There was absolute silence. Then a rapturous round of applause.

Mourners sat knee-to-knee the breadth of the Catholic Church situated on the banks of the River Shannon. The chief celebrant, Fr Donal McNamara, PP, St Munchin’s,  had encouraged them to remain seated throughout the Mass.

Derek was a father, a son, a friend, “a gentle soul who never raised his voice”. He was a chef and he made “the best cup of tea”.

While Derek had no sense of direction, he always seemed to find his way home to his mother.

Derek, mourners heard, was “intellectually gifted - he loved maths.

“He was such a charmer. He had a smile that could light up a room and, my God, could he pose. I saw some photos lately that I had never seen before and, probably, as a mother, I should never have seen them at all,” Ms Cosgrove smiled to soft ripples of laughter.

“When someone you love passes away, it’s natural to remember the bad along with the good. Derek was like Peter Pan in lots of ways - he never grew up. He found it difficult to take responsibility and wasn’t the most reliable person. He needed a lot of support and it was hard on his family and friends, and a big part of that was to do with his illness.”

Derek Cosgrove is deeply regretted by his son Simas, mother and father Majella and Henry, brothers Ricky and Glenn, sister-in-law, uncles, aunts, extended family and friends. He was laid to rest in Castlemungret Cemetery.

If you have been affected by this article please contact the Samaritans (116 123), Console (1800 201 890) Aware (1890 303 302).