Kerry teenager who spoke against suicide dies of cancer

Donal Walsh appealed to young people not to take their own lives

Kerry teenager Donal Walsh, who died last night after a battle with cancer. He was known for campaigning against suicide among young people. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Kerry teenager Donal Walsh, who died last night after a battle with cancer. He was known for campaigning against suicide among young people. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Mon, May 13, 2013, 18:27

A 16-year-old terminally ill student who criticised young people who “choose” to take their own lives has died at his home in Kerry.

Donal Walsh, a talented rugby player, was diagnosed with a tumour in his leg four years ago. He was being cared for at his home in Blennerville near Tralee. He is survived by his parents Fionnbar and Elma and sister Jema.

Last March he talked about his illness after being selected for a Kerry “local hero” award, and also said he was angered by suicide among teenagers.

Following a recent diagnosis, he said: “I realised that I was fighting for my life for the third time in four years and this time I have no hope. Yet still I hear of young people committing suicide and I’m sorry but it makes me feel nothing but anger. I feel angry that these people choose to take their lives, to ruin their families and to leave behind a mess that no one can clean up.”

He pleaded, “Please, as a 16-year-old who has no say in his death sentence, who has no choice in the pain he is about to cause and who would take any chance at even a few more months on this planet: appreciate what you have, know that there are always other options and help is always there.”

Concerned at conditions in Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, where he received numerous bouts of chemotherapy and other treatments, he raised €50,000 for its work in caring for children.

In interviews he said he had a strong faith and did not have a sense of anger or unfairness about his condition, but he did worry about the effect his death would have on his family.

“I never get scared. It’s nothing to do with the illness or dying that scares me. It does worry me to think what my family will be like afterwards.”

Last month he was awarded more than €15,000 after he was knocked off his bicycle in September 2012 while cycling near Milltown, Co Kerry. His barrister Katie O’Connell told the court, “Donal doesn’t have a lot of time left. If money is to be paid out, the money would be put into an account for Donal’s sister’s education – that’s what Donal wants. He wants it to go to her education in the future.”

The National Office for Suicide Prevention had been working with the teenager and his family to see how his appeal to young people against suicide might be utilised further.

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