‘It’s so, so crucial to talk about things’ – Irish singer Saoirse releases debut single in aid of suicide prevention following her own experience with depression
An Irish singer/songwriter is raising funds for suicide prevention charities in Ireland with her debut single, ‘Midnight Train’.
Saoirse Fennessy (23), from Kilgarvan, Co Kerry has been singing and playing the guitar since she was nine years old and, alongside Lee Tiller in their band Borderline Blues, has played support to artists including Damien Dempsey and Declan O’Rourke.
She was asked to lend her vocals to 'Midnight Train' by film sound mixer and record producer Steve Jones, who wrote the song for a good friend of his who was thinking of ending her own life.
“Happily, that friend has now come through her crisis, thanks to an organisation very similar to Pieta House,” reveals Steve. “In essence, it’s a song of hope, the message is to hold on, things will get better.”
Unbeknownst to Steve, however, Saoirse had had her own experiences with suicide and self harm support charity Pieta House as she began struggling with depression at the age of 18. Her story emerged during the recording of the song.
Her mental health began to suffer after her Leaving Cert and during her first year at college where she was studying music.
“I went through quite a bad depression. I didn’t really understand it at the time. It went hand in hand with anxiety," she says.
“I was in college at the time and I found it very, very hard. I was doing music and that was my dream, to go on and perform and make albums, but I just couldn’t bring myself to stay on in college. It got too much.
“Eventually it was my mum who stood up to the plate and said, ‘There’s something wrong here. This isn’t just a teenager acting out, this is something more’. I think I was in such a dark place myself I didn’t really know what I was doing or who I was. I felt kind of lost and Pieta really pulled me out of that really hard time.”
At that time Saoirse’s dad was also very ill and he passed away in 2016. His death was a massive blow to the young singer, who was extremely close to her father.
“He was my idol,” she says. “He was the person I wrote songs for and he appreciated it so much. He’d sit and listen and say 'you need to do this'. He was so encouraging. He would say ‘you’re going to be huge’. “
Saoirse says she felt like there was “no hope” but she found help and support in Pieta House through counselling and particularly during times of crisis.
“I went through quite a few crises where I needed to call them and say, ‘I need to see you sooner rather than later’ when it got to the stage where things were hard to deal with and cope,” she reveals.
“But I knew that if I needed someone I could ring them and say ‘I need to see you now if possible’. The lady I went to see there was absolutely fantastic. She brought me out of myself and helped me to realise there is a life out there, a lot more to life than what I was seeing.
“It’s so, so crucial to talk about things. As people we tend to shut down when it comes to talking but with mental health it’s just as important as physical health.”
She adds, “To be able to tell my story now is overwhelming because I never thought I would be able to talk about this. But it’s important to talk and maybe I can help someone if they’re feeling like I did and they read this or listen to the song.”
“Anyone going through a rough time like that might feel like there’s no hope and nothing can help but the song gives a sense of light and meaning.”
Saoirse hopes to raise as much funds as possible for suicide prevention charities through sales and streams of Midnight Train ahead of Darkness into Light on May 11. It is available now on iTunes, Apple, Amazon and Spotify.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.