THE role alcohol plays in teen suicide should be scrutinised further, the priest who celebrated Chloe Kinsella’s funeral has said.
Speaking to Matt Cooper on Today FM’s ‘The Last Word’ programme earlier this evening, Fr Pat Seaver said ‘tough love’ is ‘proper’ for teenagers whose parents seek to protect them.
He also warned that vodka was the “big one at the moment” for teenagers drinking alcohol.
During Chloe’s funeral yesterday, Fr Seaver delivered a powerful message to the young congregation, telling them “life is for living, especially for young people, especially for 15-year-olds”.
Fr Seaver said he spoke with Chloe’s parents and the principal from her school before the funeral.
“There were two young people who died by suicide during the summer holidays and the principal Mr Eugene O’Brien was keen that this was mentioned as well,” Fr Seaver said.
“He really wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be copycats if you like, that people wouldn’t see it as an option.
“And of course, Chloe’s parents. They really wouldn’t want to see any other parents suffer the way they have.
“It was a combined message from the parents, the school and from the church, myself.
“The congregation was filled with young people and there was sobbing going on and their total focus and attention was in a way kind of startling for me.
“I have never had such a large and quiet, focussed congregation that I can remember.”
Fr Seaver said they were keen not to make Chloe’s death appear in any way glamorous – what happened to Chloe was a tragedy with far-reaching consequences and heartbreak.
“Well the message was quite clear – we had discussed it with the parents and with the school people.
“The first thing that we decided upon was there was going to be no glamorisation of it – that this was tragic.
“And that we were going to focus on the amount of pain that had been caused, especially to the parents.”
The role alcohol can play in such events was also highlighted.
“We would try and get the parents and the old people I suppose to have a look at the dangers of alcohol.
“Because there has been research done into the causes for suicide but none of them have actually come up with this idea that young people after they have filled thmselves with vodka – vodka is the big one at the moment – and then they come home and they get a bit of a little bit of a dressing down as is proper for parents.
“The other point that I wanted to get across that tough love is totally appropriate for young teenagers.
“Because there are two opposing forces at work – the young people want to escape, they want to be independent. It’s the way that nature prepares them for flying the nest.
“On the other hand then, the parents’ instinct is to protect and to set boundaries, and they’re so important.
“So you got, if you like, a built in conflict and I would be very suspicious of any house where there’s teenagers and I’m told that everything is so cosy and nice, and there’s a never a bad word. Like that doesn’t sound healthy to me.”