Over the past few months, a good friend of mine, Shane, made contact with me regarding an incredibly distressing position himself and his fiancé Cat, and her family found themselves in. When he first explained the situation to me, my immediate reaction was one of empathy, but that was then quickly joined by an immense wave of frustration, anger and total bewilderment
On the evidence of this particular story, this family seemed to have been abandoned and utterly betrayed by a system that now has to be brought under serious and real scrutiny, and the least this family deserve after losing their brother, their son, their friend, is justifiable and honest answers to questions they have been asking for many months now.
I could easily rehash their situation and explain the background but one of Ireland’s biggest online platforms www.joe.ie, recently printed their story and explains the situation in all its painful reality. Read here for more information.
Since this story was printed, many more situations have emerged that simply are heartbreaking.
Because this young man was still consuming alcohol he was told he could not be admitted to psychiatric care. I made many calls to people within my close network of mental health specialists and legally they could not help him because of his drinking.
In Ireland, we celebrate and promote the culture of alcohol but then use it against people when this vicious drug starts to take over their life. It really is not acceptable on any level.
I received a text from Shane to say that Caoilte, the young man at the centre of the story had gone missing. My gut immediately sensed the worst and a few days later, Shane contacted me to say Caoilte was found dead. The inevitability of this although deeply saddening was replaced by an even greater harrowing realisation that this young man’s death could have been prevented. What really resonated with me was the utter pain he must have felt for so long and the devastation the family have had to continuously endure, without adequate support or resources. In a developed, relatively wealthy country such as ours, surely we can all see how erroneous this is.
Over the next couple of months, after this family have allowed themselves grieve and deal with this tragedy, more details will gradually emerge of their story and it will quite simply shock anyone who reads it, but it’s sincerely important to comprehend something here. This could be anyone’s brother, anyone’s sister, anyone’s mother or father or child.
Ask yourself if this happened to a loved one, would you like to think themselves and your family would be resourced, looked after and supported, or treated like this family? Don’t be naive to think we are all immune to situations such as this. We will all experience, grief, trauma, crisis etc… and sometimes people don’t quite manage to cope with this and become ill. We have some amazing people within our mental health services, we have excellent support groups and charities, but with the demand and requirement of these services they are chronically and outrageously under resourced by our government.
Someone in government has to have the balls to stand up and admit this, and stop adding insult to injury to families going through this. This can’t be a political head hunt, or a pointing of fingers. We all have to come together and start joining the dots here. There is no point arguing that our mental health services are adequate and fit for purpose, especially now that our society is starting to break the stigma and seek help for their illness.
This entire story settles that argument. Yes, there are many who positively benefit from existing services but there are also many who simply don’t, and when it comes to our emotional and mental health, that is not okay. This family, will no doubt want to make sure that no other family has to endure what they have had to over the past, and in respect to Caoilte’s memory, we will do whatever it takes to get the answers to make sure changes are made to save the lives of men and women throughout Ireland in the future.
Caoilte is anyone’s brother, may he rest in peace.