Dublin fireman Padraig ‘Paudi’ Thompson wants to highlight the plight of those suffering through mental illness, by completing the Dublin Marathon with an added 40 KG on his shoulders.
Paudi will be among the 11,000 people taking part in the annual marathon on Monday 27th October, but unlike fellow sports he will be running with a child mannequin on his shoulders.
The fireman at Tallaght station is calling on fellow participants to lend their support during the race. By helping to “take the weight off his shoulders”, other runners will show how invaluable it is when friends and family members offer help to someone in moments when they feel completely alone.
Due to his line of work over the last decade, Paudi (33) has witnessed the pain that results from mental illness and its consequences: “I have seen the devastation suicide causes amongst young people and the heartache it leaves behind for those families who have lost someone very young,” he told Independent.ie.
“Most of the time, I can leave things I’ve seen at work and not think about them when I go home, but when it comes to seeing families grieving the suicide of a child, it really strikes a chord.”
The dad of two has completed seven marathons all over the world, but admits he hasn’t trained for next week’s event.
“I know I physically won’t be able to do it, I’ve been injured so I’ve only been out running the last few weeks. I’m really relying on other people helping out along the way, taking the load for a few minutes or sharing the weight.
“I only received the doll two days ago, I’ve been carrying it around the house and I took it for a walk last night I could see people looking at me,” he laughed.
While the overall suicide rate in Ireland is still considered low by international standards, Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently urged society to take a collective responsibility to ensure young people in particular are looked out for.
According to the National Suicide Research Foundation, the male suicide rate has continued to rise since 1980 and the suicide rate among young Irish women has doubled in the last decade.
A new suicide prevention framework that will run from next year is currently in the pipeline, and the Health Service Executive has recently launched #littlethings, a campaign which aims to dispel the stigma around mental illness and highlight that its normal to have ups and downs.
Together with Irish charity Suicide or Survive (SOS), Paudi hopes to raise awareness that help, support and education is always available.
“I’ve no professional background in this, but the things I’ve seen recently have touched a nerve so I want to raise awareness for the wellness workshops, and other services that are available to people who need them.
Paudie is optimistic that he will get through the gruelling race, “It may take me a few hours but we’ll get there.....as the saying goes....there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
If you’d like to sponsor Paudi in his marathon bid, donations can be made online at mycharity.ie