“You know, Claire, it’s not too long ago, where I was, my life, I was convinced, the only way out of the immense emotional pain and suffering I was in, was to take my own life.
I came very close, moments away from it, but thankfully, through various supports, and was able to recover my wellbeing in a sense, and my health. But the situation, for a lot of families around the country, the reality is, around Christmas time, there’ll be a lot of empty chairs at tables, and unnecessarily so.
It doesn’t have to be that way. People don’t want to end their lives, they want to end the pain they’re in. Let’s implement the 24/7 specialist support services, as was said would be done in the Vision for Change, let’s end the omnipresent stigma that still engulfs this very common aspect of the human experience, and prevents so many people from coming forward and getting support.
Let’s create a pioneering education system that nourishes the most important knowledge of all: the knowledge of self, and the relationship with self. Let’s realise that the passing of the Marriage Referendum wasn’t a panacea for all the distress that many LGBT* people experience when coming to terms with their sexuality, and the massive levels of suicide among that group of people, is very concerning.
Finally, let’s finally, put the emotional health and well-being of our people on a par with physical health, in our health service, and in the hearts and minds of our politicians.
As sure as there’s a path into emotional distress and crisis, there’s a way through it and out the other side. And we all need to realise, Claire, that we can all be the lanterns that light that way for others, to support people on their journey back to wellness. Because the wonderful thing as human beings, is that we possess these endless reservoirs of compassion, of kindness, and care.
We can change the story, and the carnage, of suicide on the island of Ireland. We have to change it, and we all share responsibility to ensure that this happens right now.
Hurling veteran and mental health advocate Conor Cusack last night, speaking on RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live.