A POLITICIAN who lost his son to suicide has been inundated with calls from people thinking of taking their own lives.
Peter Roche said that since speaking publicly about the death of 24-year-old Colin, he receives weekly calls from desperate people.
The Fine Gael councillor puts them in touch with counsellors from Console, the suicide bereavement and prevention agency.
He said: "I think a lot of people prefer to make the personal contact because they feel better understood or something.
"Dozens have contacted me, and it's good to know you can make a difference to people's lives. Not many weeks go by when I wouldn't have one or two making direct contact with me."
Irish speakers included broadcasters Mary Kennedy and Ray D'Arcy, as well as the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health, Kathleen Lynch. The conference took place ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, which is taking place on Monday.
Mr Roche said it was important for him and his family to speak about their own tragic loss.
"It can be pretty difficult to accept that we didn't take the opportunity to talk to Colin about this, but it's nice to know we're making a difference to somebody else. I see it as a tribute to my son," he said.
"We get inspiration from Colin. I do this because I know it is working. It would be useless and selfish of us to just deal with our own loss. We can help others."
Colin took his own life in a shed behind the family home in Abbeyknockmoy, Co Galway, in November 2010.
The apprentice plasterer had rung his older brother, Alan, minutes before to say he was sorry for what he was about to do and express his love for his family.
Alan immediately contacted his parents, who were at home at the time.
Sadly, by the time his father had rushed to the shed, Colin was dead.
Mr Roche said the scene that met him was one that will haunt him.
"We were a regular family with four sons, all busy and successful. All of a sudden our lives were turned upside down," he added.
He added that while the family tried to remain positive they were still struggling to come to terms with their terrible loss.
"We have a family wedding this weekend and those occasions are horrendously difficult," he said. "But the drive to keep going and help others comes from Colin."