We have to keep talking about suicide. Lives depend on it

Red Óg Murphy’s family started the conversation, let’s keep it going

Red Óg Murphy’s story in last week’s Irish Times prompted an overwhelming response from readers.

The messages started landing at breakfast time last Saturday and continued through the week. They came by email, they came by text, by DM and WhatsApp, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. In the end, they numbered well over a thousand, which is well over a thousand more than would usually be the case.

The generosity of Redmond and Geraldine Murphy in speaking publicly about the death by suicide of their eldest son has, initially at least, achieved the thing they wanted to achieve. People around the country have talked about suicide this week.

Red Óg’s public profile, his footballing ability, his personality – all of it was so at odds with the consensus image of a suicide victim. Which is, in many ways, the point of doing the piece in the first place.


The world keeps spinning, all the same. We all move on, we go about our day, we find the next thing to talk about. Christmas is coming, the World Cup is on, the planet is burning.

It is incredibly easy not to talk about suicide. And yet it’s there, bubbling under the surface, a strength of feeling right around the country that is more visceral than most of us realise.

The Murphys got letters to their house this week from families in Donegal, from Westmeath, sharing their stories, offering fellow feeling. That’s all that families affected by suicide can do. Their stories are what they have to offer and nothing in their lives has been harder earned. For the rest of us, the price is much cheaper. A bit of discomfort maybe. Some awkwardness. Nothing really, at the back of it all.

So in the spirit of continuing to talk about it, we went back to some of the people who got in contact and asked if they were okay with us publishing their correspondence.

None of it was originally intended for public consumption obviously so we’ve made them anonymous where it was the wish of the person concerned. We also asked the Murphy family if they were okay with it and they replied immediately that they were.

The messages came from every walk of life. Current and former intercounty players. Bereavement counsellors. Youth workers. Parents. Lots and lots of parents.

It broke my heart to read it but hopefully it will open up conversations. My son was in DCU last year as well and he has talked to us more about Red Óg in the last 24 hours than in the last eight months.

A mother.

They came from people who had interacted with Red Óg in and around the time of his death. Fellow students at DCU. Lads who had played with him, young women who had sat in the lectures with him. One came from a club in Boston from whom Red Óg was weighing up an offer to play summer football.

I had been talking to Red Óg a couple of times on the phone in the weeks before he passed. He was hopefully coming to play with my club in Boston for the summer. Jesus, we were excited to get him. He came across as a lovely polite lad, and very innocent. He had been texting me as he wanted to know what kind of work he’d be doing in Boston. I heard a rumour and thought it was a sick April fools so I even texted him to see if he had any luck booking flights just hoping for a reply. A great young Gael gone too soon.

Paul Martin McDaid, Donegal Boston GFC.

Some people got in touch to say they’d been there, that they saw their story in Red Óg’s. They had come out the other side and life was good. That above all else, talking was the thing that got them through it.

Fair play to Red Óg’s parents for being so open – it raises a great awareness. Having been in similar circumstances – I had two very dark nights, all shortly after GAA matches and GAA pressures – thankfully I was helped and four years on I couldn’t be happier. Hope to see more work published like this. Hoping for the awareness that it will bring that suicide isn’t the answer for young people.

A current club player.

Unsurprisingly, so many messages came from the Murphys’ hinterland in and around Sligo and the west generally. Every rural community knows about suicide, young and old, male and female. They also know the attendant silence, all too well.

The article on Red Óg had a powerful message. Struck a chord with me and please God several others. Thanks for sharing.

Seán Power, Sligo.

I had a few tears reading your piece on Red Óg this morning. As you know from meeting them, the family are unbelievable people. Hopefully young people who are struggling are helped by this awareness.


We could fill a supplement with them but you get the drift. Different people, different vantage points, different ways of coming at the world. But each of them united by one thought when it comes to suicide.

The need to talk about it. More than that, the need to normalise talking about it. The need to lean into the discomfort and get in amongst it. The need to be there for the people who need a forum – even just to be seen to be there so they think twice about that last drastic, unrecoverable act.

We have to keep talking. Lives depend on it.

- If you are affected by any issue in this article, please contact Pieta House on 1800-247247 or the Samaritans by telephoning 116123 (free) or Text HELP to 51444.