I WAS asked to write something about Ciara, my daughter, who committed suicide on September 19 this year, aged 15. It is 3.55am as I start to type, so you can see I have become a night owl. I struggle to sleep at times.
Ciara's death has changed me beyond all boundaries I would have thought possible. My world has been turned upside down and inside out all at once.
I won't write anything too personal, as that would be too difficult at this time, and even writing this introduction gives me a lump in my throat that has been there so many times over the last three months.
I guess this is going to be aimed at anyone, young or not so young, who is considering suicide.
A week or two ago, walking home from work, I saw my first Christmas tree in the front room of a house.
I cannot describe adequately the feelings that swept over me. This should have been a time of year to look forward to. Instead, it was a lonely, sad and empty feeling that consumed me.
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence in the last three months; it only takes something very small at times.
If I could do anything to have Ciara back with us, safe and well, it would be done.
As her father, I continually ask myself the what-ifs: What if I had phoned her that afternoon? What if we had something planned to go and do? What if I had questioned her more when she seemed a little off form? What if, what if?
Why did she do this? Why did she leave us? Did she not know she was loved? Did she not know we needed her? There are so many unanswered questions.
We were extremely lucky to have had Ciara with us in person for 15 years. So many great memories of a bubbly, outgoing young lady, just starting to blossom as a flower opens its petals. As it turned out, too few memories by half.
Don't get me wrong, Ciara was not joy and happiness all the time. She was like most of us, moments of awkwardness, doggedness and even anger. We loved her all the same and she will be missed by the whole community, not just her family.
Suicide in Ireland – as I have found out since September 19 – is a massive problem eating away at the fabric of society. I was quite obviously shocked by the death of my own daughter, in the same way as so many others are affected.
In 2011, there were nearly three times as many suicides as deaths on the roads; 2012 is not shaping up well either.
So many people around me have since given stories of single and multiple suicides and how they have been devastated in the same way.
We have to do something to halt this tide of desperation that is devouring our families and communities. Government action is very urgently required in the same way that committed action has been taken in recent years to halt the amount of road deaths.
Resources need to be allocated and re-allocated to tackle this problem from its roots to branches.
I could go on and on here about the intransigence that seems to exist in this respect but I will leave that till the new year. There are much more important things for the Government to consider. Really?
My request: I ask – in fact, I plead – for anyone thinking of suicide to come forward and talk to someone, anyone, please.
Suicide is a totally wrong permanent solution to a short-term problem. You may think people do not care; believe me, they do care and they care very deeply, more than you can imagine.
If I only knew of the internal turmoil Ciara was going through, I would have moved heaven and earth to fix it. I wish she had talked to me. I wish I had known. I did not know.
We are now left with a void that will never be filled, broken hearts, regrets and thoughts filled with sadness.
Please do not subject others to this fate. Your problems can be fixed but only by sharing and working together.
If you are young, we parents don't know it all. We are not psychic or telepathic and I know we do not make it easy at times.
Talk to us or a friend, say to the friend it's okay to tell their parents or your parents. Work together. We as parents want to help.
Please tell someone how you are feeling and why. I am sure they would want to help.
Life is not an easy path sometimes, but by working together it can be so.