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Six days after his death, Donal is saving lives

NOT yet a week since his death, inspirational teenager Donal Walsh has continued to save lives.

Agencies working to prevent suicide said there was no doubt his life-affirming message had given hope to people who have contacted their services.

The head of Console, which supports people in suicidal crises, said records from its telephone helpline revealed the impact the 16-year-old had, particularly on young people.

Paul Kelly said Donal's name had been commonly mentioned by people calling their centres seeking help.

A spokesperson for Pieta House said Donal had done more to prevent suicide than it or any other agency had ever achieved.

Donal lost his battle with lung cancer and died at the family home in Blennerville, Co Kerry, last Sunday.

In April he came to national prominence when he won an award for bravery.

He said he felt "nothing but anger" towards young people who took their lives, because he had no choice when his ended.

He wrote: "I feel angry that these people chose to take their own lives, to ruin their families' lives and leave behind a mess that no one can clean up.

"No matter how bad life gets, there is no reason bad enough to make them do this."

Mr Kelly said: "I know for a fact that Donal has saved lives. We've had calls from people saying that having heard his story it made them stop in their tracks.

"We're testament that he has saved lives and will continue to do so.

"It's been heartening to get calls from young people who have been deeply touched by Donal's story. He has kept them safe, and we cannot thank him enough."

He said it was amazing what the teenager had achieved in such a short time, which was far more than Console had succeeded in doing.

"We owe Donal a debt of gratitude. His message was one of hope – that there was help out there if you look for it.

"He has done more to prevent suicide than any of us."

Pieta House's chief operations officer, Cindy O'Connor, said Donal's message of hope, coming from a young person who was facing down a terminal illness, was "invaluable".

"He has done more for suicide prevention than any organisation in the country," she said.

"He has had a massive, direct impact on young people and how they view their circumstances and has left a remarkable legacy because he's going to continue to save the lives of so many people at a global level.

"That people are seeking help from us is directly related to Donal."

A website providing support for suicidal young people reported a four-fold increase in the numbers seeking help following Donal's appeal.

SpunOut.ie spokesman Ian Power said this was "definitely down to Donal Walsh".

Contact Console at 1800 201890; Pieta House at 01-6010000 (or see www.pieta.ie); and The Samaritans at 1850 60 90 90.

Irish Independent