The late Jason Cobey (RIP) and Matthew Gaffney (RIP), both from Crosskeys.

‘Never go it alone’

APPEAL Local priest urges young people to seek help if they need it

A priest has made an emotional appeal to young people not to take their lead from social media and also warned against turning to excess alcohol or drugs, particularly if they are feeling depressed.

Fr Jason Murphy made the comments in a homily during the funeral mass of Matthew Gaffney (19) from Carrickaboy, who died by suicide. Matthew’s funeral mass was celebrated last Friday in the Church that bears his name, St Matthew’s in Crosskeys.

“Just say three words, ‘I’m in trouble’, ‘I can’t cope’, ‘I need help!’” urged the local priest.

It was almost a month to the day that Fr Jason officiated at another funeral mass, that of Jason Cobey, another young man from Crosskeys who sadly took his own life. The two, who lived less than a mile apart, are among a number of reported suicides locally in recent months.

The priest’s comments come a week after the co-ordinator at SOSAD Cavan called for a nationwide advertising campaign to combat suicide. “We’re operating in an epidemic within a pandemic,” said Christine Wynne to the Celt.

She further revealed yesterday (Tuesday) that SOSAD Cavan has seen an almost 40% rise in calls over the past week, largely from young people, some previous service users.

Ms Wynne views this as “positive” step, meaning they are “recognising the triggers for their own mental health.”

Addressing young people directly at Matthew’s funeral on Friday, Fr Jason said:

Fr Jason also warned them against turning to drink and drugs to ease their pain, saying it would only cloud their minds.

Fr Jason told the congregation that young people like Matthew did not understand the finality of death and, it was his belief, they would not have chosen it had they fully realised the pain it would cause.

“If Matthew, who bought presents for his parents on their anniversary last week, could have seen the wrenching pain as his coffin was wheeled into the funeral home on Wednesday evening and the deep hurt that is left in his wake as his mother and father’s hearts break in two as they bury their beautiful son... if he could see all the goodbyes that had to be made as the lid on his coffin was closed this morning in that front sitting room in Banaho, surely he would have done everything to have ensured it wouldn’t have happened, to leave those he loved without their son and brother and friend,” said Fr Jason.

Fr Jason described Matthew as “the loveliest lad you could ever have known”, hardworking, good with his hands, a talented footballer and also his huge love for his family, friends and the countryside.

Last month, the priest, who taught Jason Cobey in Breifne College where Fr Jason is also chaplain described Jason Cobey as full of life and a fun-loving person. “He brought happiness, he brought laughter, he brought joy to many people’s lives.”

May both young men, and all others lost to suicide, rest in peace.

Online support

To meet demand, SOSAD Cavan have been hosting online sessions with clients due to COVID-19restrictions in place.

It’s “not ideal”, Ms Wynne accepts, but the need is out there.

Mirroring the sentiment of the homily delivered by Fr Jason, Ms Wynne also encouraged others suffering with mental health concerns to ask for help.

“Reach out, just speak out, tell someone you need help. Even if it’s a case that someone doesn’t feel strong enough to find those words, send a text, leave a message. We need our young people to begin speaking up about this.”

Contact SOSAD

A SOSAD suicide intervention officer is available 24 hours a day on 049-4326339 or 083-423 9090,