The family of Donal Walsh has called on young people to remember his message against suicide as they face their first Christmas without the Kerry teenager.
Donal’s parents Elma and Fionnbar and sister Jema thanked the public for their support since his death in May following a five-year battle with cancer.
“This year we lost a son and a brother. We are heartbroken and at times the future does not seem too bright, but at times like this we think of Donal and the life he wanted to live,” they said.
“He would not have wanted us to use his death as an excuse for sadness but more as a motivation to keep his message to cherish living and life.
“We will bear the pain of a silent night this Christmas but our dearest wish is that Donal’s message to young people is to cherish their lives and that it takes greater courage to seek help than to suffer unbearably in silence.”
The 16-year-old anti-suicide campaigner from Blennerville in Kerry 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 when he died at home surrounded by his family.
Donal bravely campaigned against suicide, particularly among teenagers.
He said cases in which youngsters had taken their own lives had angered him as he spent every day fighting to survive his illness.
Hundreds paid tribute to the avid rugby fan on social networking site Twitter, with politicians and sports stars describing him as a hero and an inspiration.
More than 14,000 people followed Donal on Twitter. He wrote his last tweet on May 8, tweeting that he had defied doctors’ odds by surviving past Christmas.
“They told me have an early Christmas, but I’m after making it from October to the summer,” he said.
Donal gave numerous radio, television, and newspaper interviews throughout his illness, urging people considering suicide to seek help.
He also made a video for the National Office for Suicide Prevention, which will be soon distributed to schools and put on the organisation’s website — www.nosp.ie
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