'I thought I could protect Eden. He's my baby': Grieving family calls for action on bullying

'I thought I could protect Eden. He's my baby': Grieving family calls for action on bullying

Eden had just turned 18 less than two weeks before his death.

A month on from the untimely death of 18-year-old Eden Heaslip, his family are calling for laws against bullying to be introduced.

The Cavan boy died by suicide on September 20 following months of relentless bullying by his peers.

"Any form of bullying that could be done to Eden was done," his father Raymond said.

"He got it mentally, he got it physically, he got it by social media and phones. Even when he left school, they were still after him. They wouldn't leave him alone. That is what ended Eden's life."

The family are pleading for laws to be introduced to tackle bullying and harassment saying "Eden cannot die in vain".

"You can go to jail for not paying your tv licence but there is nothing that can be done for bullying, for making people's lives an absolute misery," his sister Chloe said.

Speaking of the torment Eden suffered at the hands of his bullies, Father Jason Murphy told mourners at his funeral it was "a suffering that no man with shoulders broader than his could ever endure".

The music-loving teen had opened up to the parish priest previously about what was going on in his life.

"I sat and I cried in front of this boy as he told me of his every day pain," Fr Murphy told the congregation.

A pain of the heart, a pain of the mind, that had left scars deep, deep where no one could see."

Late last year, the family began to notice that Eden who was usually cheeky, witty and fun boy was spending more and more time on his own.

Then one November evening, Raymond went to check on his son before heading to bed as Eden had gone to his room earlier while the family were watching a film together.

Shocked to discover Eden wasn't in his room, it became apparent that he had left the house through a window.

In a panic, a search was begun while they tried to contact Eden on the phone. Eventually, he answered the phone to his brother, Finn.

Once he was home, Raymond asked him what was wrong and Eden replied that he had just needed to clear his mind. The next day, when asked if he was being bullied, Eden admitted that it was true.

As there had been two suicides in the local area at the time, Eden's parents were extremely concerned and arranged for him to speak with a counsellor the following week.

Knowing that Fr Jason "had a great way of talking to the young lads", Raymond asked the priest to come to the house to see if he could help Eden to open up about what was happening to him.

The priest did not go into detail about what the struggling teen had told him but said: "It's bad. It's really, really bad. It's so bad the gardaí should be involved."

Chloe, a trainee teacher, said she was happy when her brother spoke to Fr Jason. "That was the first time, I think, he had truly let anyone in on his pain."

"I think he accepted it because it was happening so regularly, every day of his life. He was getting it and he couldn't escape it," she said.

It was on his phone as well and no matter what, if he blocked them they would make new accounts or anything. He couldn't put anything up on any social media without something being said to him."

The counsellor told his parents that someone had told Eden to take his own life calling him a "useless good for nothing but not in as nice words".

On a road trip with his father, Eden was coaxed to share some more detail of what he was being subjected to. The stories left Raymond in complete shock.

"They would just kick him all the time. Never just one. He said 'Da, it's always three to four. I could handle one-to-one but it's always three or four'.

"Just kicking him all the time, every week. They'd kick him and he'd fall to the ground and they'd kick him on the ground.

"One of the things he couldn't understand was as they were kicking him they would say 'Go home to your own country, you black Protestant b*****d'."

Raymond is Protestant while his wife, Maggie, is Roman Catholic. He said the children had been raised Christian and taught to respect other religions so Eden was left both hurt and confused by the taunts.

Eden revealed another regular occurrence in school that his father found difficult to take in.

"Eden said the group of lads 'would get me and stick my head down the toilet. Never a clean one. They would pick the dirtiest, sh*ttiest toilet to do it and they would stand and laugh'.

That was hard to take. To think that your wee man who is so special and you love so much..."

Eden had just turned 18 less than two weeks before his death. He had recently gotten an apprenticeship to become a mechanic.

A lad who was very fond of his cars, he and his brother had bought a Lexus and had planned to fix it up together.

At his funeral, Chloe asked people who knew him to send their memories of her brother to her and says she has since been inundated with people writing letters telling her that Eden had made them feel safe and how he always stood up for others.

"If there was ever anyone being mean to somebody else, he would stand up. He took it to heart as well. He was really caring," Chloe told the Joe Finnegan Show on Shannonside Northern Sound.

"If I was hurt or I wasn't having a good day, he would come in and ask. He always looked out for everyone else."

Chloe is urging families to discuss the issue of bullying openly and not to hide away from it.

"I want conversations to be had in houses not asking 'are you being bullied?' but instead asking 'are you bullying someone?' Ask them and they might say 'actually, yeah and I'm doing wrong'. 

Have the conversation, not hiding away saying 'oh my child would never do that' or 'my brother would never do that'."

The sentiment was echoed by Eden's mother Maggie who through her grief is hoping that no other mother has to feel the same pain.

"Every parent has to talk to their child. I thought I could protect Eden, I'm his mother, I thought I could keep him alive forever.

"He's my baby. I can't imagine another mother sitting here feeling the pain I am in today."

The family are also urging those who are being bullied or harassed to reach out and seek help. They have also called for a confidential hotline to be established so people - adults and children - have a place to go for support.

- If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please click here for a list of support services.

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