The death of a 16-year-old boy in Kerry on Sunday after a brave and long battle with cancer has had a profound impact on the the suicide awareness campaign in Ireland.
Donal Walsh from Tralee, an anti-suicide campaigner, has left an amazing legacy for campaigners and people with suicidal thoughts in Ireland.
He was diagnosed with a tumour in his leg when he was 12. He underwent numerous treatments to fight the disease, which eventually moved to his lung. But he lost his battle over the weekend when he died at home in Blennerville surrounded by his family.
When learning of his terminal illness, Donal penned a letter to young people with suicidal thoughts in the hope that his words might change their mind.
This amazing young man won the hearts of the nation when he appeared on The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O’Connor to tell his story last month with just weeks left to live.
As a newspaper, we too have a responsibility and an important role to play in the way that we report suicide and in helping to raise awareness and provide information. And the Midlands, as a region, has been sadly affected by suicide.
In this respect, it is our honour to print Donal’s letter to help spread his message:
A few months left, he said. There it was; I was given a timeline on the rest of my life. No choice, no say, no matter. It was given to me as easy as dinner.
I couldn’t believe it, that all I had was 16 years here, and soon I began to pay attention to every detail that was going on in this town.
I realised that I was fighting for my life for the third time in four years and this time I have no hope. Yet still I hear of young people committing suicide and I’m sorry but it makes me feel nothing but anger.
I feel angry that these people choose to take their lives, to ruin their families and to leave behind a mess that no one can clean up.
Yet I am here with no choice, trying as best I can to prepare my family and friends for what’s about to come and leave as little a mess as possible.
I know that most of these people could be going through financial despair and have other problems in life, but I am at the depths of despair and, believe me, there is a long way to go before you get to where I am.
For these people, no matter how bad life gets, there are no reasons bad enough to make them do this; if they slept on it or looked for help they could find a solution, and they need to think of the consequences of what they are about to do.
So please, as a 16-year-old who has no say in his death sentence, who has no choice in the pain he is about to cause and who would take any chance at even a few more months on this planet, appreciate what you have, know that there are always other options and help is always there.
I’ve grown fully in both body and mind by climbing God’s mountains
I live in a part of the world that is surrounded by mountains. I can’t turn my head without finding a bloody hill or mountain and I suppose those were God’s plans for me. To have me grow up around mountains and grow climbing a few too. And that’s exactly what I’ve done, I may have grown up in body around them but I’ve fully grown and matured in mind climbing his mountains.
He’s had me fight cancer three times, face countless deaths and losses in my life, he’s had my childhood dreams taken off me but at the end of the day, he’s made me a man.
I am always called brave, heroic, kind, genuine, honourable and so many other kind compliments, but I have to try and explain to everyone why I seem to reject them. I have never fought for anyone but myself, therefore I cannot be brave or heroic, I’ve only been kind because my religion has taught me so.
What impact could I ever make on the world if I was fake or how could I ever be honourable if I was not honoured to be here.
I am me. There is no other way of putting it, little old Donal Walsh from Tralee, one body, one mind with a few other cobwebs and tales thrown in.
I’ve climbed God’s mountains, faced many struggles for my life and dealt with so much loss. And as much as I’d love to go around to every fool on this planet and open their eyes to the mountains that surround them in life, I can’t. But maybe if I shout from mine they’ll pay attention.
If I start to accept these compliments, I’m afraid of what I’ll become. Will I be braver than YE? Will I be kinder than YE? More genuine than YE? Or more honourable than YE? Better than YE? No. I can never accept that there is a YE. We are all the same, we are all given one body, one mind. The only difference for me is that I’m looking from the mountain.”
Also, please watch Donal’s interview with Brendan O’Connor: