The grieving mother of a 15-year-old suicide victim yesterday said her heart turned to stone the day her son took his own life last June.
Caroline Winder was commenting on provisional statistics from the Co Clare coroner’s office showing a 21% increase in the number of suspected suicides in Clare, rising from 19 to 23 in 2012.
Ms Winder’s son William was the youngest to take his life, near the west Clare village of Miltown Malbay, just days before he was due to sit his Junior Certificate.
Ms Winders said the rise in suicides in Clare was “disgusting”.
“There are lots of little groups like our own William Winder Rainbow Foundation doing work in communities, but it requires a major initiative from Government because suicide is an epidemic at the moment.”
Ms Winder said that for those suffering with depression, “suicide has to be taken off the table as an option”.
Miltown Malbay GP Dr Billy O’Connell said there was “total despair and people felt powerless” in the west Clare area after six suicides over a short period. It resulted in locals setting up a support group, West Clare Taking Care.
Dr O’Connell, who attended a number of scenes last year where people had taken their own lives, said “the psychological impact on a family and the wider community of a suicide is horrendous”.
He said the incidence of suicide also “galvanised the community here more than anything else as it affects all strata of society”.
Ms Winder, along her William’s father Mark, have established the William Winder Rainbow Foundation which provides free counselling from a team of seven. She said: “The work of the foundation is providing a little bit of relief and comfort for us.”
Ms Winder said she has got the go-ahead from the HSE to address schools. “I have already spoken to William’s friends and told them that my heart stopped beating on Jun 3 last year. My heart turned to stone and I will feel like this for the rest of my life.
“I know William’s friends are devastated by what happened and I want them to hold onto the pain in the nicest possible way to make sure that nothing like that happens again. It is too late for us. I couldn’t help William, but I want to help others and that gives some comfort.”
Ms Winder said there were no signs William was depressed or suicidal. “Even if children tell their parents that they are fine, I would urge parents to keep talking to their children.”
Ms Winder said William climbed Mt Kilimanjaro with the late Ian McKeever in Aug 2011 and Ian was to accompany William’s uncles on climbing the mountain next August as part of a foundation initiative.
She said: “Ian told me that it would be a honour to lead William’s uncles. William thought Ian was the coolest man on Earth. Ian is a huge loss and being in the same room with him, you felt his energy and spirit.”
She said the Kilimanjaro climb will take place along with a sponsored skydive in June.
There has been no recorded suicide in the west Clare area since early in August. Dr O’Connell described this as positive and Ms Winder said: “I hope something has changed.”
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