IRISH STARS like John Connors and Daniel O’Donnell have lent their support to a campaign designed to raise awareness about the mental health issues across Ireland.
According to the #TooManyLives campaign 352 people died as a result of suicide in Ireland in 2018.
In a newly-published campaign video, Connors speaks candidly about his own experiences of dealing with mental health problems related to suicide.
The Love/Hate actor specifically references his father, who took his own life after battling depressing and other problems in silence.
O’Donnell also lends his support to the campaign which has been launched alongside the hashtag #TooManyLives.
The campaign has been put together by Cathal O' Reilly who was inspired to take action after seeing, first hand, the experiences of those living in psychiatric hospitals across Ireland.
Cathal was shocked at the conditions many of these patients so decided to take action.
“I was deeply moved by the current conditions for people subjected to sleeping on the floors in psychiatric units in Ireland, in particular Waterford University Hospital,” O’Reilly said.
“As someone who has been through psychiatric hospitals in Ireland myself, I could relate to the hurt and frustration felt by the patients and their families when they were left down by with such conditions at the most vulnerable time of their lives due to the lack of adequate resources.
“I felt we had to do something to highlight mental health and suicide in Ireland, especially in the lead up to Christmas when the message can sometimes be lost. I was widely supported with people courageously coming forward to help.”
Despite putting the successful campaign together, Cathal believes the toughest tests lie ahead in addressing the way people talk about mental health problems.
O’Reilly is calling for more to be done to facilitate the discussion of such issues as a means of preventing further loss of life.
“The biggest challenge people face is finding their voice in speaking about their mental health,” Cathal said.
“I appreciate it's a difficult subject to speak about and would encourage everyone, from all walks of life to not only speak about how they are really feeling but also listen to others with empathy when they find the strength and courage to speak about how they are feeling.”
After years of suffering in silence, Cathal is urging people to open up and not shy away from potentially difficult or upsetting conversations.
“We need to stop avoiding and ignoring the issue of mental health and literally have the conversation around it, as difficult as it may be,” he said.
“It will make families closer when we really know how each other feel. This isn't putting a plaster on something, it's a continuous conversation we need to be having with each other.
“As a country, we have a huge voice culturally speaking but I feel that we need to really start making our voices heard in our own lives also. Don't be afraid of offending people when it comes to how you are feeling about something.
“At least, people will know where you stand about something and in my experience when people know where they stand and communication is open, it than makes it easier to broach a situation. Silence really is a killer."