Suicide verdict in three of four Killarney inquests

Kerry coroner Terence Casey.

Suicide was the verdict in three of the four inquests at the coroner’s court in Killarney, Co Kerry yesterday and the fourth inquest was held “to allay” rumours in an east Kerry community that the deceased took his own life.

Coroner for South and East Kerry, Terence Casey, was presiding for the last time before retiring because he will be 70 tomorrow. He said the suicide rate was too high in Kerry; it is rising again and now involves an older age group than in previous years.

He credited the late teenager, Donal Walsh, who had spoken out against suicide, as a turning factor for young people taking their own lives in Kerry: “Since I started speaking about suicide, Donal Walsh made an awful lot of difference to young people under the age of 21.”

In the first inquest, 68-year-old John also known as Jack O’Keeffe, a single man and a farmer of Beech Grove Cloonts, Rathmore died of natural causes, the jury found. There was a container of weedkiller in the room where he was found dead in his bed and the rumour went out that he had taken his own life, the court was told.

Toxicology tests were carried out, some at a British laboratory, to ascertain if the herbicide was present in his system and it was not, the inquest was told.

There were “very clear findings” from the post mortem carried out by State pathologist Margot Bolster at Kerry University Hospital, that he had died of a heart attack, Mr Casey said reading from her report to the six-man jury.

Three others did die by suicide:

  • A Cromane farmer, 58, found dead in his bedroom on Jan 13, 2016. Anti-depressants in the therapeutic range were present in his system. He had had mental health issues and was found by a friend calling to tell him the public health nurse wanted to talk to him as she had not heard from him since January 6.
  • A Tralee woman, 32, with a long history of psychiatric illness was found in the shed of the home of a couple who had been very good to her and for whom she worked part-time. The woman had been in a psychiatric unit until two months before her death on September 30, 2016.
  • A Polish man, 38, who worked in a north Kerry factory. He had returned from Poland the previous day and had drunk a lot of alcohol.

He phoned friends and called to their house and later texted saying what was accepted as a goodbye.

Tributes were paid to Mr Casey, a solicitor, who since 1994 had been deputy, then full-time coroner, by gardaí, the jury, his employers Kerry County Council, and a member of the NUJ on behalf of the press in Co Kerry.

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