'Love/Hate' star Coonan opens up about tragedy of close friend who took own life
'LOVE/HATE' star Peter Coonan has spoken of the importance of positive mental health, after losing a close friend to suicide.
The 28-year-old is encouraging people who are suffering to seek help.
"It's about being open with your friends and the people closest to you. I lost my mum when I was 12 and I remember the biggest thing was that a problem shared is a problem halved.
"Once you do that and get something off your chest you alleviate so much stress and worry," he said.
Dublin-born Coonan stressed the importance of tackling the ongoing issue of suicide, particularly amongst young men, in the wake of the death of his childhood friend Ciaran Walsh (28).
"In the last four or five years in my area, six men my age and younger have died from suicide," he told the Irish Independent. "In this country we need to get rid of the stigma attached to it, to depression and mental health.
"Ciaran was one of the first people I knew who died from suicide.
"He was a very close friend growing up, he was full of life, girls loved him, he was good at football, and had a great job."
Coonan was speaking at the launch of the Pieta House nationwide 'Darkness into Light' fundraising walk in Dublin yesterday.
Now in its fifth year, the event, which is sponsored this year by Electric Ireland, will take place at 20 locations around the country on May 11.
It will see thousands of participants gather to walk five kilometres at 4am.
Joan Freeman, founder and CEO of Pieta House, said that the walk is "symbolic" of the work that the self-harm crisis organisation does, in helping individuals to overcome distress and dispel negative thoughts.
Coonan was joined at the launch by his 'Love/Hate' co-star Aoibhinn McGinnity.
The actors returned to the set of Stuart Carolan's RTE gangland drama this week to film the fourth series.
When asked if the cast and crew feel added pressure now that the programme has become such a success, Coonan said: "Not at all, we're doing the same things we've always done, just working hard and getting to grips with everything."