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"There were no warning signs": Derry Clarke urges young people to talk about their problems

Clarke, whose son Andrew died by suicide last year, been speaking to TV3 about the issue, and is calling for more funding to be made available for an awareness campaign.

Derry Clarke and his wife Sallyanne at their son's funeral his school chapel in Clongowes Wood, County Kildare
Derry Clarke and his wife Sallyanne at their son's funeral his school chapel in Clongowes Wood, County Kildare
Image: Photocall Ireland

WELL-KNOWN CHEF Derry Clarke has spoken on TV for the first time about the death of his son Andrew.

The 16-year-old died last year after taking his own life. He was found unconscious in the family home on 27 December, and passed away four days later.

Appearing on Ireland AM to discuss his new role as an ambassador for helpline service ‘Teen-Line Ireland’, Clarke said there had been “no warning signs” in the weeks before Andrew died.

He called on anyone contemplating suicide to seek help and talk about their problems:

“Just look and think for a second because it is an instance, it’s not something that’s planned,” Clarke said.

“We were surprised with Andrew, it’s instant. There were no warning signs.”

Clarke described suicide in Ireland as “an epidemic” and called more funding to be made available for awareness campaigns.

He said the issue required a Government effort on a par with the road safety campaign targeting drink-driving.

“There’s been a blanket campaign on drinking and driving and speeding and it’s really worked so I’d like to see that transferred on to suicide.

Clarke said that if his son had known there was a place he could talk to confidentially it might have made a difference.

“If Andrew had had, in his mind, Teen-Line’s number, or somewhere at hand, just an example, he could have rang them and there could have been a chance,” Clarke said.

“Because kids, you know teenagers especially, they don’t like to talk to their parents really, let’s be honest.”

Clarke said he believed that adolescence was becoming more difficult for young people as a result of the spread of social media.

Teen-Line Ireland can be contacted on 1800 833 634 (8pm – 11pm). The Samaritans can be reached at 1850 60 90 90 (24h)

Read: Donal Walsh’s message to teenagers: ‘Take time, a door will open’

Read: Recognising the warning signs can prevent suicides

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