Health

Friday 1 August 2014

'There were no warning signs': Top chef Derry Clarke opens up about his teenage son's suicide

Derry Clarke
Derry Clarke has opened up about his son’s suicide for the first time on television.

Celebrity chef Derry Clarke has said there were no warning signs that Andrew (16) was planning to kill himself.

The top Dublin chef said he is urging people to talk to someone if they are contemplating suicide.

“This is the first time I’ve talked about suicide openly,” the 56-year-old said on TV3’s Ireland AM. 

“It is an epidemic in Ireland. I’d like to see more done and funding and awareness like the campaign for driving over the last few years – it really worked”

Derry and his wife Sallyanne tragically lost their 16-year-old son Andrew last year to suicide.

The teenager was found unconscious in the garage of the family home just two days after Christmas last year.

He passed away on New Year’s Eve surrounded by his loving family, including Derry, mother Sallyanne and big sister Sarah May.

Derry Clarke consoles his wife Sallyanne as they follow the remains of their son at the funeral of 17 year old Andrew Dermot Parker Clarke, son of chef Derry Clarke at The Boys' Chapel, Clongowes Wood College, Clane this morning..Picture Colin Keegan, Collins, Dublin.
Andrew Clarke
Derry and Sallyanne Clarke with their daughter Sarah May at the funeral for Andrew last week at Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare

“There’s been a blanket campaign on drinking and driving and speeding etc. and it’s really worked so I’d like to see that transferred on to suicide,” Derry said this morning.

“Like I would say to anyone contemplating a suicide, any young person especially, just to look and think for a second because it is an instance, it’s not something that’s planned actually and I agree with Maureen because we were surprised with Andrew, it’s instant. There were no warning signs.”

Derry has since become an ambassador for ‘Teen-Line Ireland’ and is calling for more funding to be put into suicide awareness.

“If Andrew had of had in his mind, Teen-Line’s number, or somewhere at hand, just an example, he could have rang them and there could have been a chance because kids, you know teenagers especially, they don’t like to talk to their parents really, let’s be honest,” Derry said.

“They might feel that they’re upsetting their parents or afraid to say what happened but like I’d say to anyone, no matter how bad you think it is, no matter how bad, there’s always someone you can talk you. You’ve got to talk to someone,” he added.

Top chef Derry also said he also believes social media has made the transition between being a child and an adult even more difficult.

“It’s an inbetween; from adolescence to adulthood,” he said.

“It’s a weird little stage of life and also social media, there’s so much pressure on teenagers nowadays, image, looks, everything is geared against them really.”

Founder of ‘Teen-line’ Maureen Bolger said they are a listening and support service and they are completely confidential.

“Even if teenagers have no credit they can ring Teen-Line and it’s just to load off and they’re not judge; they’re listened to,” Maureen said.

“We’re not a counselling service; we’re a listening and support service. If a young person rings up and we feel they may be in a need of another service, we will gently give that to them if they so wish but nothing is pushed on them and again it’s confidential.”

For more information log on to www.teenline.ie or call 1800 833 634

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