'He had the symptoms of depression, but I didn't know what to look for'
EDDIE Dalton buried his son Shane on Christmas Eve, 2008. He was 23 years old.
A qualified electrician from Templeogue in Dublin, Shane had emigrated to Australia the previous August. But from the start, Eddie (54) noticed that he had changed.
"I was hoping he would live his dream," he said. "He had no psychiatric issues before he left, but we were talking to him on Skype and he didn't seem himself. He wanted to come home.
"He arrived home to Dublin Airport, put his arms around me and cried. I knew there was something wrong, but depression never entered my head."
Two weeks later, after seeing his GP, Shane returned to Australia.
"He was taking his anti-depressants and had a job in one of his passions, in landscaping gardening, leading a crew, he had a great work ethic.
"We got a phone call at the start of December saying he had been mugged. He had taken too much sun, and had a few drinks, and a lady policewoman knew there was something wrong with him, that it wasn't drink.
"I flew out the following Monday. When I got there, he was crying and tearful. I agreed to take him home."
Shane saw a doctor, and admitted himself to St James's Hospital in Dublin for treatment. At the end of his first week, he was sent home for the weekend.
"He was at home with his little sister and favourite cousin, and myself and my wife went out at around 8pm for a bite to eat. We came back at 11pm and the girls were laughing. They said Shane was in bed snoring.
"My wife went to his room. She saw a bottle of tablets on the bed, and notes. He was taken to hospital and at about 12.45am he hadn't been breathing on his own for an hour and we decided to let him go.
"He had all the classic symptoms of depression, but I didn't know what to look out for. He knew he had a problem, and wanted to get it sorted out. If somebody had said to me they were feeling depressed, I would have said you're feeling sorry for yourself. I didn't realise it could lead to suicide."
Eddie has since trained as a counsellor psychotherapist, and wants to help educate people about depression, starting in schools.
"Second-level education would help, running programmes to bring awareness of what depression is because there is a stigma," he said.