The family of a Co. Meath immigrant, who took his own life in September, have filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and the Fire Department of New York EMS over his treatment in the lead up to his death.
Paul O’Shaughnessy died at the age of 44 on Friday, September 28. A native of Trim, Co. Meath, he lived in Sunnyside, Queens for almost 20 years with his wife Susan and their four children Haley, 16, Sean, 11, Michael, 9, and Paul, 6.
According to a post on the O'Shaughnessy Family Fund website, a lawsuit was filed on Friday, November 30 over his death.
The post states, “Whether this suit succeeds or not is neither here nor there - all his family wants is for someone within the system to acknowledge that he did not receive the courtesy, professionalism and respect of the NYPD, nor the medical care he deserved at Elmhurst Hospital.”
The family says O’Shaughnessy was charged with felony weapons possession for holding a knife to his own throat. He was then held in jail for a period of time.
After what the family described as “a month of hell,” the 44-year-old took his own life. They feel the efforts by emergency officials to get O’Shaughnessy the help he needed was inadequate.
A family friend, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed concern about the rising number of suicides within the Irish community in New York.
“The problem is a lot of people of Irish descent who have depression feel they can’t talk about things,” she told the Irish Voice.
“I am not just talking about Paul, it’s the community as a whole.”
The Queens resident, who has known the O'Shaughnessy family for over 15 years, paid tribute to the Meath man.
“He was a great person, he always looked after everybody,” she said. “He worked hard. He was a good man.”
The family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This Sunday, December 16, a fundraiser will be held for the O’Shaughnessy family at Sidetracks in Sunnyside (45-08 Queens Boulevard) from noon until midnight.
Leo Reynolds, a committee member for the benefit said the event is very much a community based effort
“Paul was a friend of mine for over 20 years,” Reynolds, originally from Co. Meath, told the Irish Voice.
“He was a popular guy in the neighborhood. He was a great carpenter; he did a lot of bar fronts in the tri–state area.
“It’s a really tough situation for the family. We want everyone to come out and show their support.”
The fundraiser will go towards helping raise funds for Susan and the couple’s four children.
Entertainment for the benefit includes bands such as Alan Gogarty, Steven Reilly, and Paddy Geraghty as well as numerous Irish musicians, including fiddle player Niall Mulligan and Irish dancers.
According to event organizers, there will also be hourly raffles with prizes, a children's corner with a magician, face painting and balloon making. There are two separate raffles and tickets will be sold through December 16, when the winners of both the $100 raffle and $20 raffle will be drawn.
Tickets for both raffles are being sold in all local bars and can be purchased by contacting Sidetracks or anyone on the committee. Prizes include a $3,000 travel voucher, self-catering holiday in Montauk, self-catering holiday in Cape Cod, flat screen TVs, an iPad and iPod.
The main event will take place around 9 p.m. when auctioneer Cha Connaughton takes to the hammer with the monster auction. Up for grabs will be a Bon Jovi guitar signed by all the band members, a GAA 2012 all-star signed jersey, a Donegal jersey signed by the 2012 all-stars and more..
Donations may be made through Paypal using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks may be mailed to O'Shaughnessy Family Fund, PO Box 4531, Sunnyside, New York 11104. For more information visit www.oshaughnessyfamilyfund.com.