Harney speaks movingly of friend who took her own life

HEALTH Minister Mary Harney has disclosed how she was left stunned by the suicide of a close friend during her college days.

Ms Harney spoke movingly of the loss of her friend when she opened a major conference on suicide organised by Console in Dublin yesterday.

She recalled that her friend, who she referred to as Karen, was the first person she brought to Leinster House when she was nominated to the Seanad in 1977.

Ms Harney said Karen was a beautiful girl who seemed to have everything when they were students together.

The first-class-honours students came from a well-off background and always wore the latest fashions.

“She was the envy of all of us at Trinity College Dublin,” said Ms Harney.

“After college she went to London to study accountancy and one night in London she threw herself under a tube (train).”

Ms Harney met Karen’s parents at her funeral and they told her that their daughter had a drink problem from the age of 16.

“None of us ever knew that because she never drank in company. She only drank alone,” said Ms Harney.

“I remember being bewildered, devastated and meeting friends over many subsequent weekends discussing what had happened to our friend Karen. We were just all absolutely stunned that somebody as bright as her, who seemed to have everything would die in that way.”

Ms Harney said the tragedy taught her that she could never really know what was going on in someone else’s life.

“You may think you know someone well but, deep down, you don’t,” she said.

- Console helpline – 1800 201890


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