A MOTHER who lost her eldest son through suicide has praised soccer-mad Sunderland supporters for helping her suicide prevention group.
Margaret O’Callaghan whose son, Frankie, took his own life 14 years ago aged just 22, said their decision to take part in a fundraising soccer tournament in Cork city next weekend will help her Charleville-based Suicide Prevention Group to train local community leaders to spot the early warning signs for suicide.
“It will help us pay for 30 people to complete the Assist Course,” Ms O’Callaghan said. “It’s a two-day course that helps people to spot the signs, and to be aware of the risks, and to talk to people about how to cope.”
She set up Suicide Prevention, with the assistance of Ballyhoura Development, just over two years ago following a spate of suicides in the town.
“I remember looking for help 14 years ago and I said to myself: ‘I must try to do something’,” she said.
The group has produced pocket-sized leaflets with local contacts that can help people at risk of suicide, and it holds regular talks.
But Ms O’Callaghan said some form of dedicated counselling service is needed, especially to help older and isolated people who may be at risk, and that some form of intervention service should be targeted at local schools.
She said the pain of her son’s death never leaves her.
“People say time is a healer but, sometimes, I look at Frankie’s photograph and the pain comes back. My counselling helps me and my family has been a great support.”
Sunderland supporter Dennis Ramsey, who has family links to Charleville, said he was inspired to help Ms O’Callaghan’s group after reading about her son in a local newspaper.
“I looked at it and said that’s a worthy group to help,” he said.
He and his friends in Sunderland have now organised for 38 fellow club supporters to travel for a soccer tournament in former Sunderland manager Roy Keane’s stronghold in Mayfield on Saturday next.
The Sunderland contingent will field two teams, and play in a tournament against two teams from Charleville, two from Cork city and two from Mayfield United.
A bucket collection will take place during the tournament, which kicks off at Mayfield United’s grounds at 10am.
The Sunderland fans will then don fancy dress costumes and head for Charleville that night, raising money in the Bar Code pub.
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