Monday 22 December 2014

Donal wanted suicide plea kept secret until after death

Published 02/07/2013 | 05:00

Donal Walsh
Donal Walsh

INSPIRATIONAL teenager Donal Walsh, pictured, never intended his anti-suicide message to become public until after his death, his mother Elma has revealed.

Mrs Walsh said her son had written his inspirational, life-affirming words to other teenagers six months before they were first published.

But he wanted to keep them private until after his death – and when she let slip what he had written on the subject, he was none too pleased.

"I told him a few times that it was a powerful piece that I thought would save lives," she said. "But he said, 'No, mom, I don't want that to come out until after I die. It will have more of an impact'."

She said when Donal won a local hero award with Radio Kerry and 'Kerry's Eye' newspaper, a journalist told him he had a way with words and asked if he had written anything else.

"I said he had – a piece about suicide – and if looks could kill, I'd have been stabbed there and then. He nearly killed me," his mother laughed.

"But it came out and he wasn't happy for a few days, but then, when he realised the impact it had, he realised that it meant something."

She added: "The Donal we knew was no saint. He had a temper on him and a spirit and he loved his parties and his friends, and was like any other normal teenager.

"But he did have two messages to get across, one was suicide and the other was the condition of St John's (oncology ward in Crumlin Children's Hospital)."

Recalling his appearance on RTE's 'Saturday Night Show', she said: "He got those two messages across that night his own way and he fought cancer his own way as well."

Donal's parents were speaking to Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE radio yesterday, seven weeks since their beloved son lost his battle with lung cancer, just one month short of his 17th birthday.

Donal's message, which was recorded before he died, is to be broadcast on television as well as on the National Office for Suicide Prevention's website and through schools.

The minister of state with responsibility for mental health, Kathleen Lynch, said several options were being considered, with the consent of Donal's parents.

PROBLEM

Ms Lynch was speaking in Donal's hometown, where she launched the Kerry Suicide Response Plan. It is a co-ordinated plan by 29 community and voluntary organisations and the HSE to deal with suicide in the county.

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Walsh also revealed they are to set up a foundation in Donal's name to co-ordinate all the fundraising efforts for cancer and suicide awareness.

"We're trying to get it all under the one umbrella and gear it towards hospice care for teenagers," Mrs Walsh said.

Irish Independent

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