‘I just couldn’t see a way out of it’

After surviving an overdose seven years ago, one man set out to save others, writes David Raleigh

Trevor Corbett knows what it’s like to be saved.

Seven years ago he tried to take his own life. A family member saved his life after he took an overdose.

What goes around comes back around and he now does what he can to save others. Following a spate of suicides in Limerick, a group of volunteers led by Trevor has begun foot and water patrols along the River Shannon. For all the wrong reasons, it’s been a busy time.

On the night I go out with the rescue teams, a young woman is rescued from the river bank when two men passing in a car saw her in distress.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, members of the Limerick Marine Search and Rescue service responded to 11 call-outs.

The 32-year-old from Raheen admits he prob-ably wouldn’t be doing the work now if a family member hadn’t saved him.

“I served in Kosovo for three years under the United Nations. I worked with a team called the Morture Affairs Team. I was only 19 at the time and our job was to enter Kosovo in May 1999, to recover bodies that had been littered all over the country from the war, either from mass graves or from executions. Bodies were literally left in fields and forests and rivers. And after that I came back and joined the Irish Army and I served for six years, but I started suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

He continued: “On top of that I also ended a long-term relationship and there was a few other bits and pieces and I just couldn’t see a way out of it all and I thought, ‘right, that’s it, I’m gonna do it’, and I went away one night and I took an overdose.

“But, luckily for me, somebody who wasn’t supposed to come home came home and found me.

“The fantastic staff at the regional hospital in Limerick brought me back again. I went away and got the proper help I should have got in the first place, and within a year I was back to full health.”

Trevor is a director of volunteer group Country-man Emergency Rescue Team, set up 12 months ago from his house. The 10-person unit helps rescue services across Ireland search for missing people.

Trevor agrees the result of that fateful night seven years ago has played more than its part in allowing him to “give something back to the community”.

“Lately I’ve become a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and, I believe that’s why I’m still here today, to do something like this. Hopefully we’re going to go from strength to strength and we’ll be able to put the patrols on more often.”

One battle the rescue team has is funding.

“Our boat was donated from Mallow Search and Rescue. The engine alone costs €600. We’re trying to get another one to have as back up. Unfortunately all our equipment comes at a great cost. Our survivor suits cost about €150-€200 each; our life jackets are about €100 each, my particular personal flotation device suit was €200. Our van and all our equipment was paid from out of our own pockets,” he explained.

Last week the unit ran out of money and couldn’t provide help in two searches. However, wages from their full-time jobs have got the unit’s boat and van back running in recent days.

Money isn’t the only problem; wheelie bins have become the latest danger.

“One came flying towards us when we were coming up under a bridge last week and we just about dodged it. Because it was jet black in colour we couldn’t actually see it until it came upon us.

“It might seem fun for people to throw one into the river but they can float off for miles. If I’m in the water with a casualty and the bin was to hit us, it would take us both out,” he said.

According to Trevor, there is help for people who are at their wits end and contemplating suicide. And he’s living proof of that. “There is help out there but you have to reach out for it. It won’t come to you. There are organisations like the Samaritans, Pieta House, fantastic organisations that can help,” he added.

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