Sunday 27 May 2018

'He started dabbling in hash and alcohol' - RTÉ sports broadcaster Evanne Ní Chuillinn on losing her brother to suicide

Evanne Ní Chuilinn, RTÉ sports reporter
Evanne Ní Chuilinn, RTÉ sports reporter
RTE sports broadcaster Evanne Ní Chuilinn

Rachel Farrell

RTÉ sports broadcaster Evanne Ní Chuillinn has spoken about her brother's suicide following the recent Darkness into Light event this weekend.

The TV broadcaster's brother Cormac took his own life at the age of 29 in October 2013 after years of suffering from depression. 

"In secondary school Cormac started to distance himself from us at times and his friends at school. Like a lot of people that age he started dabbling in hash and alcohol," she told Miriam O'Callaghan on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

"He had an addictive personality and unfortunately that's where it all started, and it never stopped."

Evanne described the impact Cormac's mental issues had on his life and on the family. Both children were adopted at a young age and Evanne says the pair "did everything together" as children.

"For a long time, you struggle with that anger and you struggle with that frustration because you feel guilty for feeling that when people are struggling themselves. 

"Anybody that's been through that will understand. Yes, you will have frustration but that's normal, it's ok to feel cross and it's ok to feel angry. 

"Don't feel guilty because you have a life as well and if it's put on hold because of somebody else, then of course it's normal to feel a certain level of resentment."

Evanne explained that Cormac had difficulty in social situations, and things took a turn for the worst after her wedding day.

"He [Evanne's husband Brian] understood that I didn’t want a big wedding, we did something way more laid back and relaxed. Unfortunately, what I feared came to pass and Cormac didn’t deal with the day very well. 

"He spiraled a bit after that and unfortunately passed away six weeks after the wedding. 

"He tried everything, Mam and Dad did everything, they chased every possible treatment or fix. I don’t have any doubts that we couldn’t have done any more and he couldn’t have done any more. 

"I'm in no way saying it's ok to take your life and I'm not saying that’s ok, but Cormac wasn’t able to stay any longer and that was a very specific case to him."

The TV star stressed that her message wasn't a negative one and praised how the discussion around mental health has changed in Ireland since her brother was a teenager.

"Mental illness is a disease and addiction is a disease. And sometimes people don’t get better.

"We have to start thinking of it as a disease or we're not going to fix those figures. I'm not an expert and I'm not preaching, I'm speaking from experience as a family member.  For all those 8 people a week we're losing, there are 80 people mourning them. "

Now in its 10th year, 200,000 people took part in this year's Darkness into Light event on May 12th across the country and worldwide.

Pieta House's flagship fundraising event promotes suicide prevention and the stigma around getting help.  

Pieta House offer a suicide bereavement liaison service and the freecall 24/7 suicide helpline at 1800 247 247.

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