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Tiarna turns heartache into hope

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Tiarna Jones with her mother Lynda

Tiarna Jones with her mother Lynda

Tiarna Jones with her mother Lynda

The loss of a parent can have a devastating effect on a child, and never more so than when the person involved chooses to take their own life.

However, every now and then, something positive can emerge from the trauma, and those impacted can use their experiences to help others.

Tiarna Jones is one such individual. Aged just nine she lost her father to suicide.

Yet now, almost eight years later, she is just the second person from Wexford to become an ambassador for Cycle Against Suicide, and one of only 13 in the entire country.

Having got involved to 'make a difference in other people's lives', the 16-year-old from Carne was invited to take part in Cycle Against Suicide's Student Leaders' Congress at the Citywest Convention Centre in Dublin.

Created to discuss and raise awareness of mental health and wellness issues faced by young people in Ireland today, the event saw more than 4,000 students from across the country listen to a series of talks and presentations, one of which saw Tiarna and a fellow ambassador conduct an on-stage interview.

'It was good, but nerve-wracking,' said Tiarna, who was also temporarily employed as a detective during the event as mother Lynda explains.

'There was an incident at the event where someone in the audience decided to go online and bully one of the speakers as it was happening. And because Tiarna was sitting beside the gardaĆ­, they asked her would she be interested in trying to catch this fella.

'So she went online and friended him, and straight away he said "oh will you meet me out in the reception area", and they got him.'

And Lynda believes it was the loss of her father which compelled the teenager to become involved in improving the mental wellbeing of others.

'I think that's what pushed her towards it. And it shows people can speak about their issues. I'm so proud, blown away by it,' she said.

Working alongside the rest of Wexford's Cycle Against Suicide team, Tiarna is continuing to fundraise for the charity and is currently planning another nerve-wracking challenge.

'I'm raising money to do a sky dive,' she reveals, adding she doesn't think she'll be scared when the day comes round later this year.

And when she's not helping to capture online bullies and jumping out of planes, this remarkable young woman is planning for a career in which she hopes to work with some of society's most vulnerable members.

'I want to do psychology in prison, there's a course in WIT. I can do another counselling course for a year or I can go straight into a prison,' she says.

This is a far cry from her previous ambition to be an air hostess, and Lynda says working with Cycle Against Suicide (CAS) has had a huge impact on her daughter.

'When she became an ambassador for CAS, she learned about different issues and changed her mind. It was quite a surprise. For Tiarna, because of the situation with her father, I really feel it's helping her. It's given her so much self-confidence and it would be great to see her work in that field.'

Although this year's Cycle Against Suicide will not be passing through Wexford, Tiarna and the rest of the team are continuing their efforts, with cake sales and other events planned at the school in the coming months.

And she is keen to stress that the cycle isn't just about raising awareness of suicide.

'A lot of people think it's all about suicide but it's more about body image, bullying, "it's okay not to feel okay", is our motto.'

Cycle Against Suicide's main campaign for raising awareness into communities is its Annual Cycle. The route, which changes yearly, passes through towns across the country, raising awareness of the help and support networks available to people across Ireland who are battling depression, self-harming, at risk of suicide or have beenbereaved by suicide.

The 2020 Cycle Against Suicide is taking place from Saturday, April 25 to May 3, cyclists can register and find out further information by visiting www.cycleagainstsuicide.com.

Wexford People