Tag Archives: Caoilte O Broin


Earlier tonight.

Outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin.

Friends and family of the late Caoilte O Broin – including Shane Gillen speaking on stage (above) – held a vigil in honour of Caoilte.

Those gathered wore ‘smiley face’ masks to represent how people hide their mental health problems.

Previously: An Avoidable Death

Caoilte’s Vigil

Turned Away

Pics: Shane Gillen, Niamh Nic and dabombshell77


From top: Caoilte O Broin, who was found in the River Liffey on January 2, after going missing on December 29, 2015; and smiling face masks

You may recall the death of Caoilte O Broin.

Caoilte suffered from mental health problems and drank heavily, meaning he had what is termed  ‘dual diagnosis‘, something most mental health services in Ireland will not treat.

Tomorrow night Caoilte’s family and friends will hold a silent candlelit vigil outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin, at 7pm.

They will distribute smiling face masks to represent how people tend to hide their mental health illnesses.

Previously: An Avoidable Death

Caoilte’s Dual Diagnosis

Pics: Cat O Broin

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 11.14.42

Niall Breslin, aka Bressie, before the Joint Committee on Health and Children in the Dáil this morning


“Over the past few months I’ve received a massive amount of communication from families of loved ones attempting to access our mental health services and I would not be doing them justice if I said it made for pretty reading. This, I understand, is highly complicated and sensitive but it’s a conversation that we have to have.

Only this month did I receive a deeply upsetting news that a young man, Caoilte, who is a family member of a friend of mine, was found dead in the River Liffey.

He took his own life after enduring years of unexplainable pain. Many times the family tried to access help but they were refused because the young man was consuming alcohol and told he could not be helped because of his drinking – which was intrinsically linked to his mental health illness.

In a country that celebrates and promotes alcohol through it’s culture, it’s simply not acceptable that someone is turned away from help on account of it.

The family were even advised to take a barring order out which no doubt would have been broken, resulting in criminalising this young man for being mentally unwell – hardly something any mother would want to do to their own vulnerable child.

His situation was complicated and seemed highly subjective to this family involved.

But upon posting this story on my website, it was immediately evident that this story was not uncommon throughout Ireland – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, all explaining similar painful and heart wrenching stories.

The details of this story are slowly going to emerge over the coming months but this family don’t want to play the blame game or point fingers. They simply want a change. They do not want to see other families have to endure what they’ve had to and will no doubt have to endure for the rest of their lives.

No mother should ever feel this helpless and it deserves so much more. Caoilte, an intelligent, witty young man, deserved so much more. He was anyone’s brother.

We need to ask hard questions here, those stories are just too common. So many people wanted to help this young man but their hands were tied by bureaucracy, vague legalities
and a lack of resources – and they should never have been put in that position in the first place.

This is not a quick fix, that in order to progress you must first accept that change is needed. Irish people, in some cases, have shown to be revolutionary when it comes to social innovation and I hope we continue to be in the future. We have proven that negative cultural attitudes can be transformed and, although we are sometimes cautious of change, we never let it dictate our collective actions.

We’re built upon unique character and personality and we punch well above our weight internationally. We can become world leaders when it comes to our mental health strategies going forward. Let’s work on this together.

This is only the start of a conversation and it is important that the next health committee prioritise mental health for young people as a key issue for its future work programme. I appeal to you all, to use your full influence, passion and desire to work together with us, to tackle and overcome the issues we are facing and help build a more resilient society and a new Ireland.

Bressie’s opening address before the Oireachtas health committee this morning.

Yesterday: My Voice

An Avoidable Death

Watch live here


Caoilte O Broin, who was found in the River Liffey on January 2, after going missing on December 29, 2015

You may recall an anonymous article published on Joe.ie, entitled ‘My brother says he wants to kill my family and no one can help us‘ in early December.

The piece was written by Catriona O Broin about her brother Caoilte, who suffered from mental health problems and extreme psychosis for several years.

He was found dead in the River Liffey on January 2.

In yesterday’s Sunday Business Post, the paper’s health editor Susan Mitchell reported:

Catriona said the family made numerous efforts to engage with Caoilte’s psychiatrist, but were unsuccessful. They repeatedly tried to have him committed. They were unsuccessful in that too. Caoilte refused in-patient care and they were left powerless.

Catriona said a key problem they encountered was the difficulty in getting care for someone with a dual diagnosis like Caoilte.

Dual diagnosis is the terms used when a person suffers from both a substance abuse problem and another mental health issue such as depression or an anxiety disorder. Catriona said that because Caoilte drank heavily, the doctor insisted that nothing could be done to help him. But he drank “because he was in pain”, she said.

Dual Diagnosis Ireland said most mental health services in Ireland will not treat both conditions. For example, if you have difficulties abstaining from alcohol due to  depression, you cannot enter most rehabilitation services. Yet you cannot get your depression treated until your addition to alcohol has been addressed.

“It’s a postcode lottery depending on where you live or whether you have private health insurance,” said Carol Moore, co-founder of the charity Dual Diagnosis Ireland.

Eighty-five per cent of people with an alcohol addiction also had a mental health problem; yet the vast majority cannot access the mental health service.”

The O Broin family are angry at a mental health service they believe failed them – and their brother.

“His death marks the end of a mental health battle lasting many years and punctuated by repeated failure of the HSE to provide adequate help, as well as outright refusal to listen to or cooperate with our family’s appeals for support. I fully believe their brazen negligence played a role on several levels in his ultimately avoidable death,” wrote Caoilte’s brother Daniel on his Facebook page.

The HSE is aware of this story. In a statement, it said, “We take the death of anyone known to our services very seriously. For reasons of privacy, we don’t comment on individual cases.”

The Samaritans 116 123 (free)
Console 1800 247 247

A family’s tragedy: We told HSE our brother would kill himself (Sunday Business Post)

My brother says he wants to kill my family and no one can help us (Joe.ie)

Thanks Shane Gillen