GAA stars back suicide prevention

Kerry GAA star Kieran Donaghy yesterday recalled being devastated by the death of a friend by suicide in his native Tralee.

“I would love if he had came to me at the time,” said the All-Ireland winning footballer.

His 25-year-old friend was an upbeat person and nobody would realise he was ever down, he said.

“Some people put on a brave face but I think it’s very important to have a very close friend and family they can talk to when they feel down. It’s amazing what good can come out of interaction like that,” he added.

Mr Donaghy and fellow Kerry footballers Colm Cooper and Darran O’Sullivan were among the attendees at a two-day event on suicide prevention, in Killarney.

The attendance of well over 1,000 included 400 second-level students.

Colm Cooper said that top sports people also had their bad days.

“We’re fortunate to be able to play at a high level.

“We spend a lot of our lives in the limelight but we, too, have our ups and downs, more downs than ups maybe,” he remarked.

Darran O’Sullivan said girls were much better at talking about problems.

“Fellas might regard it as a sign of weakness if they talk to someone but it takes courage to talk about a problem,” he said.

Up to 50 organisations had information stands at the gathering, which was organised by the Be Aware Prevent Suicide group, set up by Killarney businesswoman Deirdre Fee.

“This is all about creating awareness and normalising the topic of mental illness,” explained Ms Fee.

“Becoming mentally unwell is just as natural as becoming physically sick.

“One in four people will suffer from depression at some time in their lives. Everyone has ups and downs.”

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