Aoife Byrne and Dearbhla Byrne have lost family and friends to suicide. Bravely sharing their experiences, they highlight that their three experiences, are three of many in Ireland. The two girls are currently in training for a 100km cycle in Galway from Salthill to Roundstone to raise funds for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland. Describing themselves as “the least athletic people in Ireland” this will be no easy task, as they take on the 100km challenge.
The key takeaway the girls reiterate is that there are stories behind the statistics.
“This charity is highly important for this country. According to Unicef, Ireland has the fourth highest teen suicide rate and 17th highest suicide rate in the EU. In our country, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29-year olds. These are terrifying facts. But we know it’s hard to imagine the people behind the statistics, and the lives and the stories behind numbers.”
In an emotional video, Aoife shares her story. In February 2015, Aoife was waiting for her older brother Thomas to come home. He never did. She describes the love and admiration she had for her brother and then the “specific type of heartbreak” in losing her brother, her friend. Aoife experienced this pain and heartbreak again in January 2020. Having met “the most beautiful soul”, Aoife’s boyfriend Karl, lit up her life every single day. Sharing small insights into their relationship, Aoife highlights simply “I loved him”. Karl died this year.
Dearbhla experienced loss and grief in 2018. Describing her dad she says “A passionate, determined, stubborn, kind, clever, honest, but most of all loving and proud of the life he had built”. Dearbhla looked to the future, the experiences she had hoped for, as they disappeared with his death in 2018. “The kind of grief that is felt after losing a loved one to suicide is hard to put into words. There are questions that will never be answered and so much confusion and anger around how unnecessary it all feels”.
Aoife and Dearbhla are taking on the 100km cycle to fundraise for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland. “Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland are taking imperative action to save the futures of those who otherwise may not have one and keep families and friends from experiencing the kind of pain that we (and so many others) have. So, we encourage you to donate whatever you can.”
“We are cycling to raise awareness, and any support at all, no matter how small will be greatly greatly appreciated. And if you get stuck behind us when we’re cycling our 100km I’m very sorry, we’re trying our best.”
If you would like to support Aoife and Dearbhla on their fundraising journey, as well as learn more about their stories, please see their GoFundMe here.
The girls will run the Her Sport Instagram account on the day of their cycle, taking us through the highs and lows of the 100km challenge!
Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland:
Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland has been working over 10 years to provide free education and training services to schools and colleges in Ireland. Their facilitators work with students and staff to promote awareness, provide skills and advice. They operate a FreeText service where people in need of crisis information can text free of charge, and they provide funding for immediate access to crisis counselling for at-risk teenagers.
Currently, they want to raise funds for Ireland’s first mobile youth crisis counselling service. To find out more about their services please see https://yspi.ie.