A member of the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard has helped talk down “11 or 12 people” contemplating taking their own lives at the the Cliffs of Moher.
Thomas Doherty has been a volunteer with the unit for 30 years and said that over the course of that time, he has talked down 11 or 12 people from the cliff edge, “from an 80-year-old woman to a woman in her 40s”.
Mr Doherty, from Doolin, said: “Anybody that has been on the edge has come back for me. It is a good success rate actually. I hope it stays that way.”
Asked what he says to people he suspects may be about to jump, Mr Doherty said: “I ask them straight out — ‘are they thinking about self harm?’ You have to get straight to the point.”
Mr Doherty said he has undergone specialist training to deal with such situations.
“If they say that they want to do it, I ask them to come for a chat,” he said.
Mr Doherty was speaking in the wake of two separate inquest days in Ennis over the last month concerning the deaths of four people at the Cliffs of Moher this year.
County coroner Isobel O’Dea dealt with three cases from the cliffs on the same day in October, including one case where a 28-year-old woman from South Korea had made the 9,500km journey, including a one-way bus ticket from Galway, to take her life at the Cliffs in the first week of July.
Ms O’Dea also dealt with a case where a German man, aged in his 20s, had travelled from his homeplace in Germany in April only to leave a taxi driver short for the fare from Ennis to the cliffs as his final journey coincided with a Bus Éireann strike day.
Mr Doherty said that, over the years, he has become aware of individuals travelling from as far away as Japan, the US, and Madrid to the Cliffs of Moher to take their lives.
Mr Doherty usually represents the Doolin unit at cliffs inquests in Ennis.
He said: “The cliffs are a place of great beauty but of great sadness as well.”
Mr Doherty also works as a ranger at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and it was due to this role that he was involved in the most recent inquest, held last week, concerning the death of a Roscommon woman.
The inquest heard that Mr Doherty struck up a conversation with the woman on the fortunes of the Roscommon footballers as they walked from the cliffs entrance at around 9am on June 19.
CCTV footage captured the two walking together to the entrance of the Cliffs of Moher centre where Mr Doherty said his ‘goodbye’ and the woman kept walking towards the cliffs.
Mr Doherty was part of the team that recovered her body six days later and was able to positively ID her as the woman he had been speaking to.
The woman’s sister and Mr Doherty embraced as they both left the inquest.
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