16-year-old appealed to people to think twice on suicide
The priest at the funeral mass of Donal Walsh has urged young people to remember the the message of the 16-year-old. The Kerry teenager has been laid to rest this afternoon after losing his 4 year battle with cancer earlier this week.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral mass at St. John's Church in Tralee earlier. During his illness he had appealed to his peers contemplating suicide to think twice and to ask for help.
Earlier this week the Junior Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch promised that an anti-suicide video Donal recorded before his death would be made available to every school in the country.
"When Donal got the devastating news - for anyone - that he was so mature that his first instinct was to reach out to others, I mean that was from a 16-year-old. That type of maturity, that type of strength is really very, very rare", the Minister said on Monday.
"He very clearly wanted that message to be out there - of course the family will have the veto, it is their son after all, and a very precious son" she said. "It's been worked on as we speak. Donal's request was that it would go into every school, and we will be making DVDs - but it will also go up on the web".
"An incredible man - at 16, he displayed the maturity that you seldom see in someone of 60" she added.
After Donal's appearance on the Saturday Night show with Brendan O’Connor, Minister Lynch contacted him and asked if he would like to record his message to appeal to teenagers not to consider suicide and he agreed but asked that it be made available to schools around the country.
He came to prominence after he wrote a letter pleading to teenagers not to take their own lives, explaining he was preparing for his own death.
He said "So 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."
Among those who took part in the funeral today were rugby star Shane Jennings who placed jerseys representing his passion for sport; Paul Galvin who placed a pen representing his gift as a writer and his friend John Kelly who carried his Local Hero Award.
President Michael D. Higgins was also represented at the funeral by his Aide de Camp.
His friend Eoin Walsh read words penned by Donal at today's mass, while Chief celebrant Fr. Francis Nolan said Donal's legacy was that we see life as a precious gift.