“This is Ireland.” These were the words a shocked Ann Davaris from New Jersey heard a stranger saying after she called her missing son Steve on his mobile number 11 years ago.
Steve had disappeared six days previous and had told his parents that he was going to the Jersey Shore.
Instead, the 32-year-old booked a one-way ticket from New York to Dublin and took his life at the Cliffs of Moher in July 2005.
West Clare woman Josephine Ryan was at the other end of the line to Mrs Davaris after she and her husband found Steve’s washed-up ruck sack on Seafield beach at Quilty on July 12, 2005.
Yesterday, Mrs Davaris said: “Mrs Ryan was just as shocked as I was. When she said ‘this is Ireland’ I could not imagine what was happening.”
Steve’s body has never been found and, at an inquest in Ennis on Monday, Clare coroner Isobel O’Dea formally pronounced him dead.
No member of the Davaris family was present and the only two witnesses in the court were Josephine and John Joe Ryan.
From her New Jersey home yesterday, Mrs Davaris said: “The pain of losing Steve has not diminished, but I have gotten used to it. Waking up and hoping it was all a bad dream is gone and the reality of everyday life sets in. Having the inquest is the last formality and I will have a piece of paper.
“Steve was a good young man, he wasn’t on drugs, didn’t have any debts, wouldn’t hurt a bug, and he was a very sensitive caring person.”
Mrs Davaris said Steve “grew up in an Irish environment”, as his Roscommon grandmother was a big part of his early childhood and teenage years.
“Steve always said that he loved Ireland,” said Mrs Davaris.
Steve’s one-way ticket, along with his rented car being found at the Cliffs of Moher, “clinched it” for Mrs Davaris in believing that her only son took his own life, rather than suffering an accident.
Mrs Davaris’s husband, Stephen Sr, died last September after a long illness which prevented the couple from travelling overseas. However, Mrs Davis finally made the trip to the Cliffs of Moher on March 29 this year.
March 29 would have been Steve’s 42nd birthday and Mrs Davaris said: “It was a healing experience for me and I felt a sense of peace and beauty just being there. I plan to visit the Cliffs of Moher again and again, just as one visits a loved one.”
The day before her emotional visit to the cliffs, Mrs Davaris met with the Ryans, who had kept in touch through Christmas cards with the Davaris family over the past 11 years.
She said: “We chatted as if we had known each other for years. I am forever grateful to the Ryans for getting involved and activating Steve’s mobile phone, otherwise I don’t how long it would have taken to unravel this matter.”
Mrs Davaris has attended a support group in America, Survivors After Suicide.
She said: “Mental health has become a tragic issue which has been swept under the rug. Someone who is going through a bad spell can find the help they need, thereby preventing another family from having to deal with an outcome like ours.”
Pieta House www.pieta.ie Samaritans freephone 116 123
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