You may recall a post from earlier this year in which journalist Garreth MacNamee (above) wrote an open letter about his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
First thing’s first – I want to say I am still overwhelmed by the response to my blog ‘It’s okay not to be okay’. Anytime I’m down, I look at the thousands of comments left by well-wishers which pull me from the depths of hopelessness. But there was a secret I could not share with you all and this is what this blog post is all about…
For the next two weeks, over 10,000 people across Ireland are cycling against suicide in an attempt to destroy stigma and raise awareness of our nation’s most silent killer. I would have given anything to join them at the starting line in Dublin but I couldn’t. Instead, I was sitting in the defendant’s box in Court 14 in the Central Criminal Court in our capital. The charge – one count of arson. When I wrote my first blog on mental health, I wanted so much to go into the details of my own suicide attempt but I could not. I would have prejudiced my trial.
On the 30th April, 2011, I was living in the city centre with three pals. We were college students in DIT Aungier Street. Many Dubliners might recall a fire at my apartment. It was on Wexford Street opposite Whelan’s and The Village – regular haunts for those who live for the weekend. Eddie Rocket’s restaurant was directly underneath our flat. You might remember seeing smoke billowing out of the flat as the fire brigade rushed to the scene. And where was I at this moment? I was huddled in the corner of a box room crying after setting fire to the curtains and blocking the exit with my bed, a bookcase and anything I could get my hands on. As the blaze rose to meet me, I prayed I’d black out, hoping against hope the inferno would consume me and the darkness which had enveloped my consciousness would be gone forever.
But I escaped, screamed for my neighbours to get out and called the authorities. I collapsed nearby in a little alcove opposite Krystle Nightclub – a spot usually reserved for drunkards or over zealous couples. An ambulance arrived, picked me up and moved me to St James’ Hospital. Then I went to Vincent’s and finally to St John of God’s.
To this day I live with flashbacks, experience night terrors, firmly believing the same raging fire is chasing me as I go about my life. The reason I’m writing this is not to enter into the gory details of a suicide attempt, it’s what has happened since my release from hospital which is what I want to address.
A week after I left hospital, I walked into Harcourt Terrace Garda Station and told the stunned detectives what had happened. They were, and still are, two of the most caring and sympathetic people I have ever encountered and I will be eternally grateful to them for how they handled my case. There had been a second fire in the complex and my conscience would not allow an innocent person bite the bullet for two fires. I had to do the right thing. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t. Continue reading