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‘Heads should roll’ – action demanded on mental health services

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Pressure is mounting on Clare’s General Election candidates to commit to better mental health services in the county following a “traumatic” event in the county over the weekend.

Spotlight has been placed firmly on demanding better health care during the election campaign in Clare and this has intensified following a suicide attempt in the county town that has been documented on social media.

On Sunday night, a young man in Ennis attempted to commit suicide but was talked down by Gardaí and close friends. Tina Whelan was involved in getting the young man to safety and posted a live video on Facebook calling for “heads to roll” after she claimed he was turned away from Ennis General Hospital and was told he “would be fine” hours before the attempt.

Whelan outlined that the male was at the same spot where the body of her own son was pulled from the river six years ago. She pleaded with him not to bring the same pain on another family, “the hurt never goes away”.

After being talked down, Tina stated that he was soon discharged from University Hospital Limerick having presented with knife wounds which he inflicted upon himself. “Whoever discharged that boy should be ashamed of yourself. Heads should roll and whoever assessed him should be fired, whoever didn’t assess him should be fired”.

“Every single politician out there is a fucking disgrace. Standing there watching our children dying. I am ashamed to be Irish, our mental health services are a joke”, Tina said.

In light of the incident, Fr. Ger Fitzgerald has written to all fifteen candidates vying to become Clare TDs. “I have had to preside at the funeral of several young people who have died as a result of suicide. These suicides have been as a result of a number of factors. One of these factors is the immense pressure being put on young people to pay off drug debts. This pressure comes in the form of threats of physical violence against them, their families and their homes. This pressure takes the form of the most indescribable bullying and intimidation. This pressure is being applied to young men and women who, for one reason or another, have fallen into the trap of drug addiction and, being unable to climb out of that hole, accumulate debts that they cannot pay, debts which are often doubled and even trebled”.

“A young man, at the end of his rope reached out in desperation to the mental health services. Having cut his wrists he presented himself to the Mental Health Services and, having been bandaged up was told to go on his way. In desperation, he posted a video on Facebook, took an overdose of Xanax and in an attempt to take his own life, stabbed himself multiple times while he stood on the railing of the river.

“Only for the intervention of some very courageous people, we would have another suicide funeral in the town this week”. The Limerick native has asked all candidates what they will do to improve mental health services in Clare and give mental health a priority.

Founder of Elevate Foundation, John Burke has also penned a letter to Dáil hopefuls. He detailed how the organisation last year stepped in “to cover emergency funding gaps in two counselling services in Clare”. He was adamant, “the situation has to change, it’s gone on far too long”.

“We currently tell young people ‘it’s okay not to feel okay and it’s okay to ask for help’, but when they do they must wait”. John also highlighted the “shocking images” of people waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick and felt “there is a major crisis affecting the health care system in Ireland on so many levels”.

Burke referenced figures from the National Suicide Research Foundation which showed that Clare has the second highest rate of male suicide in Ireland from 2014 to 2016. “I’m not one typically for speaking out and campaigning but there comes a time when you have to”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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