Walsh: inspiring young man pleads with peers to appeal for help if facing suicidal thoughts.
A terminally ill Irish teenager has made headlines and been dubbed a 'national hero' after penning an emotional plea to prevent young teens taking their own lives.
Ireland suffers from one of the highest youth suicide rates in the European Union, with a recent report published this January showing that 165 young men took their own lives last year.
Donal Walsh (16) is fighting cancer for the third time in four years, but has said that while he is sensitive to the challenges faced by those suffering from mental health problems, the ongoing youth suicide problem makes him 'angry' and despair.
The inspirational teenager has already outdone doctors' most optimistic expectations by living beyond Easter, and has said he will 'die happy' if his legacy is to make his peers think twice about suicide.
"I feel angry these people choose to take their own lives, to ruin their families and to leave behind a mess that no one can clean up," the rugby-mad teenager told the Irish Independent.
"Yet I am here with no choice, trying as best I can to prepare my family and friends for what's about to come and leave as little a mess as possible."
"I know that some of those people could be going through financial despair and have other problems in life, but I am at the depths of despair and believe me, there is a long way to go before you get to where I am. "
Walsh's exemplary bravery and remarkable positivity in the light of his tragic circumstances have landed him a series of high profile appearances on Irish television.
The Dubliner appeared on The Saturday Nightprogramme this weekend and was on Radio Kerry today.
Muster and Irish rugby legend Paul O'Connell -- the veteran second-row who is himself an idol for many fans -- has even called Walsh his 'hero', saying that his example helped inspire Munster's victory over the weekend.
The sporting star also revealed how the pair had struck up a friendship during O'Connell's injury period, and how Walsh's startling attitude to life had encouraged him to persevere through his own difficult times.
"The last few weeks we’ve been in fairly regular contact. I really like talking to him. It’s hard to relate to some young guys, but whatever journey he’s been on, he’s quite mature and very easy to relate to," the sportsman said.
"Even when I was injured I used to enjoy shooting the breeze with him because he’d give me a massive lift. He has a great perspective on life and would give me a big lift."
Walsh said no matter what the reason behind the high level of suicides among Ireland's youth, there was always a better solution, and appealed to those going through life's trials and tribulations to take a moment to reflect on their situation before taking drastic action.
The youth also pointed out that help for those suffering from mental illness and suicidal thoughts was "everywhere", adding that even if one didn't have the 'pillars' of families and friends to fall back on, a sympathetic and non-judgemental voice was always only a phone-call away.
"For these people, no matter how bad life gets, there are no reasons bad enough to make them do this."
"If they slept on it or looked for help they could find a solution."
A recent report into youth suicide among males in Ireland concluded that despite Ireland's relatively low incidence of suicide, the figure for young males was disproportionately high, and represented one of the highest figures in Europe when weighted against other countries' averages.
"The recent spike in suicide rates among young males in both Northern Ireland and the Republic coincides with the economic downturn and increasing levels of unemployment," the publication surmised.