Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has praised the work done by SOSAD (Save Our Sons and Daughters), the voluntary organisation established to raise awareness of suicide and depression.
SOSAD founder Peter Moroney unveiled Kenny as a patron of the local organisation at a press conference in Oriel Park on Friday.
Moroney gave a moving speech, explaining that he lost his son through suicide before stating that SOSAD deal with people with mental health issues from the ages of eight right up to 85.
Kenny said he was delighted to help raise the awareness of the organisation and he revealed that he had first-hand knowledge of the devastation that suicide can bring.
“I lost two friends through suicide”, he said. “One of them was my closest friend and like me he had four young children. We were really close and I didn’t see it coming.
“The devastation that suicide leaves behind is unquantifiable. It leaves so much hurt that is irreparable. Sometimes people just need a bit of hope. Suicide can be planned for a long time but sometimes it is impulsive and based on bad moments in life. People can’t see it but they can get through those moments and talking to somebody like SOSAD can help that.
“People are losing businesses, losing relationships, there has maybe been a deaths in the family, it could be self-esteem issues, unemployment, mortgage distress; there are loads of reasons why the suicide figures are so high. The economic situation has undoubtedly seen the figures risen so the more support that people have the better. That is why it is important that we have organisations like SOSAD.”
Football, and sport in general, pales into insignificance when mentioned in the same breath as suicide but Kenny agreed that it can bring some sort of short term-benefits to those who are in distress.
“Football can temporarily lift people and bring feelings of ecstasy but I don’t think it can solve anything in the greater scheme of things”, he said.
“Richie Towell’s goal against Limerick in the FAI Cup game recently when it came from Peter Cherrie and involved five or six passes, that can lift you off your seat. I’m not saying it solves anything but people can look forward to football.”
The 41-year-old also said that he has come across a number of players suffering from depression during his time as a manager.
The death of German goalkeeper Robert Enke in 2009 raised the awareness of depression in sport and Kenny said it is more common than what has been perceived.
“It is something you come across from time to time. You’re not even aware of things at times”, he said. “I’ve had that in recent years with quite a few players. It’s nothing new.
“That is why it is imperative that there is groups like SOSAD there. If one life is saved it’s huge because the devastation suicide leaves behind affects a lot of people forever. It never leaves people.
“I think people can accept if someone dies in a car crash or due to a medical condition. You can grieve with that and try and live with that but suicide is very hard to live with. Everybody feels that they could have done more.
“SOSAD is filling a gap that has not been filled,” he added. “When Peter approached me to become a patron I couldn’t refuse. We need to get the message out there that there is always hope. People need someone to talk to. It can save a life. It’s a brilliant thing.”