Brave Donal records video message for suicidal teens
A HEARTFELT plea by a terminally ill teenager to other young people to value life is expected to continue to save lives even after his death.
Donal Walsh, who is battling lung cancer, has made a recording of his anti-suicide message, which is going to be circulated to schools around the country.
The 16-year-old came to national prominence after he spoke publicly about his illness and how angry it made him feel when he heard of young people taking their own lives when he had no choice about when his ended.
Junior minister with responsibility for mental health, Kathleen Lynch, contacted the Walsh family personally to ask Donal if he'd be interested in recording his message for posterity.
The inspirational youngster from Blennerville, Co Kerry, agreed and the video has already been shot and will be used by the Department of Health in its bid to tackle Ireland's high suicide rate.
The teenager continues to defy the medics who told him in October to celebrate Christmas early. According to his dad, Fionnbar, Donal's life-affirming message has already saved lives.
"He's having a very positive affect, which is great, but it has also been a bit overwhelming," Mr Walsh told the Irish Independent.
He said Donal has been inundated with messages from people thanking him for saving their lives or the life of a loved one.
"We've received letters and messages from people all over the world who have been inspired by what Donal had to say and have been able to resolve their problems," he said.
"We've had calls from parents and people involved in mental health telling us Donal's message has saved lives."
Mr Walsh said his son had a message to deliver that he wanted to "get off his chest" and they were very proud of him and what he had achieved.
"He's in a unique position that allows him to say the things he wants and he's managed to get that message out on to a global stage," Mr Walsh added.
Donal's campaign has attracted international support and brought the rugby fanatic to the attention of some of the world's best-known players.
Since he was first diagnosed with a tumour in his leg four years ago, aged 12, he has built up a friendship with Munster and Ireland rugby international Paul O'Connell.
Donal's story is credited with having been the inspiration behind the team's win over Harlequins in the Heineken Cup.
International rugby stars Dan Carter of the All-Blacks and England's Chris Robshaw and Chris Ashton have also tweeted messages of support.