On the Monday morning after his son Donal appeared on The Saturday Night Show, Fionnbar Walsh got a call at home from a Kathleen Lynch. This woman, whom Fionnbar presumed was from the HSE, was wondering if Donal would record a video talking directly to his peers about suicide.
It was Elma, Fionnbar's wife, who told him that Kathleen Lynch was the junior minister with responsibility for mental health. When Donal got up later in the day – he didn't get up until late afternoons towards the end of his life – he immediately agreed to do the video. Getting his message out there, about the value of life and the futility of giving up, was hugely important to Donal at that point.
One week later, Donal recorded the video. His parents returned to The Saturday Night Show, with Kathleen Lynch, to launch it last night.
It is heartbreaking to watch the video. Just weeks from his death, Donal is visibly sicker in the video than he was just a week earlier on national TV. It seems to be much more of an effort for him to speak. But he still speaks in the beautiful Kerry poetry that is now familiar to all of us through his writing for this paper, among other things.
That's the strange thing about Donal. People felt they knew him. He created an instant intimacy with young people and older people all over the country in such a short time.
In fact, Donal was much sicker the night he appeared on TV than any of us knew. Being a proud teenager, he had made a Herculean effort to disguise how weak he was that night. There was all kinds of medical back-up present in case of an emergency, and a flight ready to take Donal home to Kerry, where he wanted to die, in case that was necessary.
"Mostly I'm living as normal a life as possible like," he said that night on TV, "and my friends see it that way and I kind of do as well, but it is catching up on me a bit now. But I'm kind of battling on stubbornly."
This is what Donal had to say, three weeks before he died, to young people who were feeling depressed or suicidal: "No one's going to judge you at all because everyone has to open up. It's something everyone has to do. Why keep it to yourself when people you love and that love you are there to help you? They want to help you, they want to get rid of these feelings that you're feeling.
"When I'm feeling low because of what happened to me I always, I take time to think. I try to realise where the good is in my life, over the bad things that would be making me feel low. I'd talk to my parents or I'd usually find a friend to talk to and we'd look ahead in life and we'd see where I was going to go and what I was going to do or we'd talk about what my dreams are or what my hopes are for the future. To never stop at the present or to never stop at the past.
"So I'd say to someone who is standing there in a room where they feel there's no windows and no doors, it's just black, to take time and a door will open. Someone will be at that door. You can go to the door as well. Anyone can find their own door out, they just have to ask and it takes a lot of courage as well to ask, but to take time and search for their door, I'd say."
While it might have seemed as if there was no door for Donal, he died at peace. His door out was one that led to the presence of his God. On his deathbed he was nervous about what awaited him beyond that door but not afraid. But he would have done anything not to go through that door so young. He would have done anything to see how his life and his sister's life, and his friends' lives, were going to turn out. He would have done anything to fulfil a few ambitions and dreams.
I don't think I have ever had the privilege to meet someone as extraordinary and enigmatic as Donal. Where he got the strength to do what he did in the last weeks of his life is mystifying. How he managed to avoid wallowing in anger, bitterness and self-pity truly is a triumph of the human spirit.
And his message did radiate out. It continues to do so. And Fionnbar and Elma have taken on the task of perpetuating his message now, through the #Livelife Foundation.
While the foundation has as one of its aims raising money for some of the projects Donal fundraised for, the primary purpose of #Livelife is to keep Donal's message alive.
It has been a huge comfort to Fionnbar and Elma in these sad months to be able to do that and I know that it makes Elma feel Donal's presence more to immerse herself in his work.
The first time I met Donal he told me he had been spending time preparing for his death. It turned out that what he meant was he had been spending time preparing his family and friends for his death. He was determined not to leave a mess behind him. Fionnbar jokes now that Donal did leave a mess, in the form of a huge job for he and Elma to continue.
Last week we discovered that one in three 11- to 13-year-olds have suffered some form of mental disorder, that over half of 19- to 24-year-olds have and one in five 19- to 24-year-olds have considered suicide, and shockingly, one in eight 11- to 13-year-olds have.
Donal's message to his peers has never been more important. And he is lucky that his parents are as extraordinary as him and are devoting every spare minute to keeping his simple message out there – it's good to be alive.
The #Livelife foundation is running a short film competition for students to spread the message of Live Life. There will be separate sections for primary, secondary and third level students. For more details see donalwalshlivelife.org