‘We Didn’t Know What To Do’


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Michelle Ross on Claire Byrne Live last night, above, and her late brother Derek, top

Last night, fashion and beauty blogger Michelle Ross spoke on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live about her brother Derek who died by suicide last September.

Ms Ross’s appearance followed a blog post that she wrote about Derek, who had addiction problems and suffered from depression, last week.

Recalling the night Derek died, Ms Ross told the show:

“When I talk about Derek having addiction problems, he wasn’t a full-blown addict, he kind of just dabbled in recreational drugs. He suffered really bad with depression though and he went many times to doctors and was always offered advice on taking anti-depressants which is something that he, kind of, didn’t want to do. When he was told he should take anti-depressants, he kind of thought he could try and get himself out of it.

Months previous to him taking his own life, he had made an [suicide] attempt. Obviously he wasn’t successful at that stage and we were sent to an A&E department and, after hours of waiting to be seen, he was sent home with a letter in his hand for a referral appointment for two months’ time.”

“We got the referral letter to out local GP office. On the following morning, I contacted the office myself and just basically said to them, ‘we’ve got our referral letter’ [to go and see a psychiatrist]. He had seen a psychiatrist that night in the A&E department and they said that they couldn’t help him there. When I contacted the GP the following morning they said, ‘oh yeah, we received the referral from the hospital last night’ and they gave me an appointment for two months’ time.”

“I kicked up a bit of a fuss about that and refused to get off the phone until I got an earlier appointment. I didn’t get anything and then a friend of the family arranged for Derek to go and see a counsellor in Coolmine. And he went for that counselling session and then it kind of just went by the wayside”

We didn’t know where to turn to. We weren’t offered any advice about any organisations that we could go to and seek help from ourselves, as a family, for Derek, and he was willing to go and get help. He wanted to get his head right but we just didn’t know what to do.”

Meanwhile, University of Limerick students Caolan O’Donnell, Ciaran Cleary and Ciaran English were in the audience.

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Last week, they made a video – for Caolan’s campaign for welfare officer at UL – which aimed to raise awareness about mental health.

Caolan (above far right) said:

“The fact that we don’t have a minister for mental health is an embarrassment. As in, it’s clearly a massive, massive issue. 131 students on average, a year in Ireland, die by suicide. How is that being ignored?”

Watch back Claire Byrne Live in full here

If only they knew… (Michelle Ross, needsnotwantsblog.com)

67 thoughts on “‘We Didn’t Know What To Do’

  1. Eamonn Clancy

    We could have 10 Ministers for Mental Health and it still won’t stop the tragedy of suicide. When you want out nothing or no one will stop you, it’s time we stopped looking for someone else to blame, but if people still insist on pointing fingers, then the family of origin wouldn’t be a bad place to start…

    1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      Pity we can’t stop the tragedy of idiots like you opening your stupid idiot mouth

    2. Baz

      Prepare for the onslaught of those that reject self accountability

      (They prefer mollycoddling over hard truths)

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Clearly you have no clue about mental health if you’re throwing in “self accountability” into the mix.

        If you’re mental, are you accountable for your actions, news to me?

        Funny that.

    3. Nigel

      It’s almost as if families need help and support to deal with serious mental health issues. The way they need health and support to dealt with serious physical health issues. But no you’d think it was the family’s fault for not fixing the broken leg properly themselves.

    4. meadowlark

      That’s quite a claim there Eamonn.

      Any experience with depression or mental health issues will tell you that one of the most important things for recovery is a support system, usually made up of family members and close friends. It’s insulting to imply that the fault is belonging to the people who most care, and who often are not equipped to deal with the myriad of issues that come from mental health.

    5. Cromuel

      Completely wrong. Most people who try to take their own lives and are stopped and helped go on to live long lives, and look back on it as “what the heck was I even thinking about”.

      People get overwhelmed with stuff. Then, with help and love and kindness, they get better and walk out of the shadows into the light again.

    6. phil

      Depression is a mental health issue which the state should be involved in. During and after professional treatment families if able should be there to support . Families are not health professionals …

      Eamonn I do however agree with the 10 Ministers bit, in the current climate having a useless lazy Minister for Mental health wouldnt be much help , just another minister to avoid questions ….

      And while you are pointing fingers at the family, you might as well point one at society, IMO I believe the way we have organised this society is damaging and killing the most vulnerable among’st us , and I dont just mean the poor, Johnny successful banker can suffer from mental health issues too ….

    7. Ricky Ricardo

      Well that’s absolutely not true, Eamonn Clancy. I’ve been in the situation of suffering severe depression while actively seeking support from GPs, mental health services, and friends and family. The level of care I found was woefully inadequate. Though for a long time (over the course of a decade), I worked hard to access support structures and to improve my mental health, when you keep hitting walls in terms of treatment, it wears you down to the point where you give up.

      The longer I went without being able to access quality mental health services, the worse my depression became until I reached the point of actively planning my suicide. Thankfully, in one last-ditch attempt at self-preservation, I Googled and found the fantastic services of Pieta House. They literally saved my life and I am forever grateful to them.

      However, it should never have come to the point where I hit such lows and had to rely on a free service, one that is kindly provided by Pieta through their own fundraising and efforts. I was very committed, initially, to resolving my depression issues. Many people with depression are. But walls are put up where walls shouldn’t be.

      It’s slightly better if you have money. Private counselling is costly and while I availed of that for a while (and was lucky to be able to afford it), others aren’t so lucky. HSE-provided counselling, from personal experience and from the experience of others I have spoken to, is incredibly patchy. In the rarer cases, people I knew were lucky to find a good HSE-provided counsellor but I’ve heard far more cases of people left on waiting lists or being treated by a counsellor unfit for the role.

      So if you’re so bent on personal accountability, what’s your response to my situation? (It’s not unique, I assure you.) Why should people (or families of those who attempt or die by suicide) be held accountable for a system that puts up roadblocks at every step? What more can people do when the services just aren’t there?

      1. Nice Jung Man

        don’t be wasting your time expecting a response there ricky

        some people have nothing better to do than go on the internet and belittle others

        apparently you get extra bonus points if the recipient of your trolling has mental health issues

        good luck with your ongoing recovery mate and well done, don’t be minding this troll

      2. Annie

        @Ricky, this is exactly my experience +1 million for Pieta House. Congratulations, well done, keep going, and maybe see you on May 7th for Darkness Into Light.! Much love x

    8. Michelle Ross

      If you actually listen correctly i didnt ‘blame’ anybody! I simply explained what happened with derek and that there was no professional help available to derek and we had to rely on charity organisations for any sort of support. How dare you suggest that ‘the family of origin’ is to blame. My brother was very much loved. People like you shouldnt be let lose on a keyboard. Have some empathy you insensitive man. Shame on you suggesting that the families of anybody who takes their own life are to blame. Nobody is to blame you idiot, but there should be something or somewhere for these mentally ill people to go to with professionals to at least TRY and help when in crisis but there is not, and maybe…. just maybe, more lives can be saved!

      1. Bertie Blenkinsop

        I wouldn’t stoop to his level Michelle, he’s best ignored, I’m sorry for your loss.

      2. Nigel

        Michelle, you shouldn’t have to put up with nonsense like that. I am very sorry for your loss.

  2. ollie

    Funding for mental health isn’t part of the blueshirt manifesto.
    Funding for a CEO who has a track record of failed public sector projects is, his €2million pension fund would pay for a lot of counsellors.

  3. Funster Fionnanánn

    I’ve been mentally ill for about 20 years. I think so anyway. Depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, stress etc. Don’t really know what I have. Went to my gp before Xmas, told him I think I’m severely depressed. He gave me some tablets, said take them for 30 days. I was crying when i told him I didn’t know what I had, stating in bed for a week. Sleeping all day. Afraid to leave the house.

    Finished my course of tablets. Not sure what happens now. No interest in going back to a doctor. A bottle of vodka offers more relief then the embarrassment of waiting in a doctors office and having to admit anything is wrong.

    Help seems very far away.

    1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      Funster, as Anna says below, pills help to an extent but you need to speak to someone at the same time. Please do this. Ask your GP to refer you or even just find someone yourself. Lots of places will do reduced rates if money is a problem and even a few sessions can help you work out what might be going on and where to go next.


    2. Nigel

      Check if there’s a short term emergency counselling service available in you ares. There’ll be a waiting list but get on it. You may come through this and feel better when/if you get an appointment GO ANYWAY. Get on the waiting list for a psychologist. It’s horrible to have to wait but better on than off. Take meds. Don’t be afraid to change them if not working or side effects are severe better on than off while waiting even though they can be horrible. Better temporary embarrassment than constant mental pain. Meds + counselling are hard work bot the pay off is less pain. You are ill. Treat it like an illness. Look after yourself and things will improve.

    3. meadowlark

      That’s awful. Do not let this drop. Go back to your GP as soon as possible. Your doctor was extremely foolish in only giving you 30 days worth of medicine (if they were anti-depressants) as they take 6-10 weeks to effectively begin to work. Find out if there are any free counselling programmes in your area. It is too easy for people to slip through the cracks in the current system. A family member of my own found themselves cut loose from treatment despite being high risk and it has taken five years to get them back into the system.

      Best of luck. I really hope you can get the help you need. Nobody deserves to feel trapped like that.

    4. MoyestWithExcitement

      “Finished my course of tablets. Not sure what happens now.”

      Book an appointment with a counsellor. Cognitive therapy tends to be more effective than pills, not that pills don’t help. Try then just to focus on that appointment and not think beyond it.

    5. fagcaplighter

      Hey Funster Fionnanánn. Truly sorry to hear about how you’re feeling. I can relate as I’ve gone through and currently struggle with similar problems. If you’re looking some one to talk to professionally check mymind.org They do rates for various income levels, from full time worker to welfare recepient. If you want someone to chat you can find me on reddit under the same username. G’luck.

      1. Funster Fionnanánn

        Thanks. Didn’t mean to spill my inner thoughts too much on here but this story hits home a little bit too much. Suicide popped into my head hundreds of times in my life but I never felt it was the answer to anything. My apathy to everything seems like a slower version of suicide.

        Talking to the doctor, even for those five minutes did make me feel lighter. I know I have to open up but it’s a huge step when you have been ignoring your mental health for 20 years.

        1. Bertie Blenkinsop

          A problem shared is a problem halved, I hope opening up helped you a little.

          Unless you’re Leather Jacket Guy obviously.

        2. Ricky Ricardo


          I’m really sorry to hear how you’re feeling. It can get better. I’ve been where you are and I empathise completely.

          You’ve got some great advice above so I won’t repeat what others have said, but have you considered speaking to The Samaritans (http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us)? They’re free to call, non-judgemental, completely confidential, and could be a good way to explore your feelings while you’re waiting for a therapy appointment (if you decide to go that route).

          You don’t even have to speak on the phone, if you don’t want to. They have text and email services, too.

          Good luck to you, Funster. I hope you get all the support you need and well done for taking the first steps to improving how you’re feeling. That takes strength and courage.

        3. Nigeli

          Funny thing. Best answer to depression is to open up about. It seems antithetical, as if you’ll be naked and vulnerable, but you wouldn’t hide a broken leg even if you could and nobody expects someone with a broken leg not to talk about it or to run a marathon they just expect them to do what they can to get better. Talking about it will peel one layer off. Lots of layers left but it’s a start.

        4. Annie

          Funster, please contact Pieta House – they will see you quickly and ascertain exactly what kind of therapy will help. I received CBT there and it changed my life (like you it had been a long term thing for me) Whatever happens do not give up and know that you can feel better, SO much better x

    6. LW

      Aware are running a series of courses nationwide, the Life Skills Programme. You can go in person or do it online, the online option pairing you with an online counsellor. I think it’s an excellent course, I think it’s geared at people with mild to moderate depression, but you might find it helpful. It runs once a week over six weeks. There’s no admitting anything is wrong, or embarrassment. Gives some good techniques for dealing with various things


  4. AnnaBrid

    The stigma around anti-depressants is a big problem. If you were diabetic you’d take insulin no question. They are not the ultimate answer but they can definitely get you to a place where you might be able to see one.

  5. Digs

    The black eyed dog is an awful beast. With the cost of therapy being so prohibitive, it’s insane that the state are not doing more in terms of provision. In my experience, career advise teachers are often a waste of space, would it not make sense for a HDip course in social/care and counselling. At least then, you could identify the problem as primary care option and act accordingly. The pastoral care model is kind of doing that but not every school has it.

    On a side note, I saw Bressie on the telly last night and quickly changed channel. Is he not due another career change at this stage? Surely he’s due the reimagine himself again soon…

      1. Digs

        Teehee… I shouldn’t laugh but….

        ” there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”

      2. LW

        You’re both right, he should shut up, sure aren’t things grand, what’s he at, the aul bollocks

    1. Kieran NYC

      While Bressie’s (and all) efforts to destigmatize mental health issues are, and will continue to be, highly laudable, what we also need are efforts to destigmatize the treatment of mental health issues, including medication. Bressie’s ‘I go for a run’ isn’t very broad-ranging in this regard. Maybe time to give the media oxygen over to people who underwent other forms of treatment.

  6. Ricky Ricardo

    If I could make a suggestion, Broadsheet, would it be worth throwing up a link to Samaritans/Aware/other organisations when posts like this are made?

    Ye do stellar working highlighting mental health issues in Ireland, by the way. Keep it up.

    1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      Yes. Great comments and suggestions by the way Ricky, fair play.

    2. Mark My Little Words He'll Be Back in RTE in 12 Months

      God, no. More important to have a link to a fashion and beauty blog post.

      1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

        More important to keep missing the point and contributing nothing

  7. Mark My Little Words He'll Be Back in RTE in 12 Months

    Millennial students are such douchebags, aren’t they? Clueless, #selfie generation ready to point the finger. No mention of cheap booze, a depressant, for students, eh?

    Fashion blogger mehole.

    1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      How is highlighting the structural failures of the mental health system in Ireland clueless finger pointing? Easier just to write her off as another stupid millennial right?

      The blog bit is in there because that’s where she felt comfortable talking about it, would you rather we went back 20 years where no one talked about mental health or suicide because I’m sure that helped plenty.

    2. Nigel

      The overweening narcissism of needing to get a few vicious digs in on a thread about depression puts any amount of millennial self-regard to shame.

  8. Peter Dempsey

    I have had two very bad bouts of depression and it was only from talking to my family that helped me. It was extremely hard to admit my condition as they don’t live nearby. So their perception of what I was like (he’s doing fine, good job etc) was totally alien to how I was actually feeling.


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