‘Watching our dad’s last moments on CCTV was so hard’- Irish brothers open up about the impact of their dad’s suicide on their family
A pair of Irish brothers have spoken about the impact their father’s death has had on their lives and urged those contemplating suicide to know they are not alone.
James Collins from Togher in Cork was just 50 when he took his own life in 2015, and his sons Shane (20) and Derek (26) have spoken about the unimaginably difficult time they’ve had since losing him.
“It happened on my 19th birthday last September. I don’t think it’s completely sunk in for us yet, or if it will,” said Shane, speaking to Independent.ie.
“When we got that call from the Guards, my legs kind of went from under me and it all happened so quickly. It seemed like just moments later we were picking a coffin for him which was mad. The rosary, the removal, the funeral and then it’s over, but you’re left with suffering.
“You know that they were suffering too to do that, but I don’t think many people see the suffering that’s passed on to a whole family,” he said.
After their beloved dad’s body was recovered, the brothers made the difficult decision to watch his last moments together on CCTV, captured in a pub.
“The night before he died he sent me a text that said: ‘Love you and Der always’, but I didn’t think anything of it because he always sent me texts like that.
"Watching back the CCTV of him in the pub, he looked really calm,” said Shane.
“He was just enjoying a pint with his friend, chatting away. It was so hard seeing that back but I wanted to see his last moments, to try and understand.
“After he came back inside, he had his drink, placed a note beneath the beer mat and walked out that door again,” he said.
In a letter that has been shared over a 1000 times on social media, Shane’s older brother Derek wrote about his regret and the realisation that he’ll never again watch a hurling match with his father.
“No more stories,” he wrote. “No more advice on how to mark your man in a game of hurling, or how trying to count the number of spins on the slíotar as it’s falling will make it easier to catch.
“No more birthday cards. No text message from him asking you to send on the lotto numbers from the previous draw.
“No more trips to Youghal, Cobh or Kinsale in the summer, or getting lost on a random trip to parts unknown and laughing about it later. No more Dad.”
The brothers said the aim of sharing their dad’s story was to help others who are struggling with their mental health in silence.
“If even a single person reading this reconsiders taking their life as a result of knowing what the fall-out will be, then I can sleep some bit easier, knowing that another family won’t have to experience what we have,” said Derek.
Shane said: “Nobody ever wants to get that call at that hour of the morning to hear the news that we did. Life goes on, but it does so without our Dad and that’s so tough.”
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, please www.samaritans.org or call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123 (ROI)