Support is music to teens' ears at Aware concert
HUNDREDS of teenagers spent Good Friday listening to live music from chart-topping bands as they gathered at a castle to learn about teenage suicide and depression.
More than 700 teens flocked to the Charleville Castle in Tullamore, Co Offaly, yesterday for the second annual Teen Aware concert.
What began as a transition year project at the local Sacred Heart secondary school last year has developed into a fully fledged music festival and an opportunity for support organisations to directly connect with teenagers.
Co-founder and student Joanne Byrne (17) said she and her fellow students staged the event to create awareness of teen suicide in Co Offaly, which has one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the country.
"But we wanted to do it in a way that would appeal to young people and music seemed like a good medium," she said.
Among the performers last night was 'The Voice' judge and singer Bressie, singer-songwriter Mundy and soul band The Original Rude Boys.
Along with the entertainers and staff, volunteers from organisations such as The Samaritans, the Suicide Prevention Service and Mental Health Ireland were also on hand to encourage teenagers to reach out if they were feeling anxious, depressed or suicidal.
A 17-year-old girl, who did not want to be named, said a close friend had gone through a rough patch last year, and she found support at the event that may have saved her life.
"Last year my friend went through a very tough time and we were very concerned for her. At Teen Aware we were able to go to one of the tents and start up a conversation with some of the people from the Samaritans," she said.
"The information they gave us was very helpful and we were able to steer our friend in the direction of help.
"She was in a bad place and it is amazing to know that you are not alone and that there is support," she said.
The Road Safety Authority was also there to highlight the dangers of speeding and not wearing a seatbelt, using a roll-over simulator.
"It was very scary. You could feel the blood rushing to your head. I would definitely always wear my seat belt after that," said Aisling Geoghegan (16).