Sunday 22 October 2017

'You never think this will come to your doorstep' - Heartbroken Irish father on losing his son (29) to depression

Anthony Doonan.
Anthony Doonan.
Amy Mulvaney

Amy Mulvaney

A heartbroken father has spoken about the devastation of losing his son to depression at 29 years old.

Speaking on RTE Radio One, Oliver Doonan told Sean O'Rourke that his son Anthony was a very determined, intelligent and athletic young man, but battled demons through depression.

"From his mid to late teens we really began to notice that Anthony had major issues. He hated his own appearance and he envied others and the way they looked. He was constantly measuring himself against others."

"Sometimes it got so bad for him when it came to his late teens that he just didn't want to come out of his room. If he had his hood up, we knew he was in a bad place and he wouldn't talk much."

Anthony, the middle son of three, would speak to his mother at times about how he was feeling but otherwise kept his feelings to himself.

"He hid it so well from his team mates," said Oliver of Anthony's beloved football team in Meath.

"Even his best mate didn't realise what was going on in his life. He was like a different person when he went out."

After encouragement from his parents Oliver and Ann, Anthony was prescribed anti-depressants and went to cognitive behavioural therapy in Dublin. 

Having graduated with a first class honours degree in sports management from UCD and continuing on to study web design in DCU, Anthony was "ready for a career" and opened up an office in his parents' house.

"The medication seemed to be helping him and he was still playing football," said Oliver.

In early 2014, Anthony told his mother that he was thinking of going off his medication.

"I think that he wanted to be so-called 'normal.' I think he felt that he wasn’t being normal by being on medication."

Anthony didn't speak to his GP but "wound the medication down slowly" and "seemed to be ok."

"We wondered that if something went wrong in his life, and for him it wouldn't need to be something major, it could be something small that would send him into a dark area, what might happen."

Anthony was just 29 years old when he took his life on 11 December 2014.

“It was life-changing after that," said Oliver.

“We didn’t see any noticeable signs, except maybe one or two weeks before he died. We just knew by his demeanour, his form was bad, his mood was low."

“You never think this will come to your doorstep. We never think that we're going to lose one of our children. The shock of that is the most dreadful thing imaginable. The pain, the loss, the heartbreak. In the last two years, the pain has subsided, the loss hasn't. It's permanent. The heartbreak is intense."

Oliver spoke of SOSAD (Save Our Sons and Daughters) Ireland, an organisation that helps those dealing with suicide and how they helped him following his son's death.

For more information on SOSAD, visit sosadireland.ie or call 041 98 48754.

If you've been affected by this article, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org

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