Senators pay tribute to teenage campaigner against suicide
Donal Walsh described as a ‘young man who in a short lifetime achieved a great deal’
Donal Walsh. “The short video on suicide prevention which he filmed spoke volumes,” said Seanad Labour leader Ivana Bacik. Photograph: Kerry’s Eye Newspaper/PA Wire
Tributes have been paid in the Seanad to anti-suicide campaigner Donal Walsh, whose death took place on Sunday.
The 16-year-old had come to public prominence after he wrote in a newspaper article that he had no say in his “death sentence” and appealed to those considering suicide to think again.
Labour leader Ivana Bacik described him as a “young man who in a short lifetime achieved a great deal, not only in raising awareness of suicide and doing important work on suicide prevention but also in his immense fund-raising efforts for Crumlin children’s hospital”.
She said there had been numerous debates in the Oireachtas on suicide prevention “yet the short video on suicide prevention which he filmed spoke volumes. It will have a much greater impact and has done so already than a great deal of other suicide prevention work.”
Aideen Hayden (Ind) said a lot of young people had got information about the Kerry schoolboy’s death on YouTube and Facebook. Ms Hayden said she watched his YouTube video and read his account of his experience with cancer.
She noted his comments that when he had a relapse and returned to hospital he discovered that nothing had changed on the wards since he sought treatment the first time. “If his death does nothing else it proves to me that our decision to prioritise the building of a new national children’s hospital was not just necessary but long overdue.”
Ms Hayden paid tribute to his fundraising efforts but said “much as I appreciate the efforts of young people to raise money for our hospitals, such fundraising should not be necessary in a developed country”.
Eamonn Coghlan (Ind) also offered his sympathies to his parents Elma and Fionnbar.
He said Donal was diagnosed with cancer at 12 years of age and he had the courage and the wisdom to refuse to give up on what was termed “a death sentence” when he was diagnosed. “He viewed suicide as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”