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Four years after his suicide, Gary Speed's family find support in Ireland

“We haven’t got any answers about Gary’s death, and we probably never will, but as a family we know that Console are always there and only a phone call away.”

Image: EMPICS Sport

ALMOST FOUR YEARS after Gary Speed was found hanged in his home, his family are still looking for answers about exactly what happened to him.

But they have found comfort and help in an Irish suicide-prevention charity that launched this week in London, and have donated counselling rooms in the memory of the former Welsh international football star and manager.

The Gary Speed Rooms were unveiled in the House of Lords at Westminster as part of Irish charity Console’s official UK launch, and will be situated in one of their two new centres in London.

Speaking at the launch event, Gary’s mother Carol said that she might never find out what really happened to her son, but that Console had been a big help in her time of need.

“We haven’t got any answers about Gary’s death, and we probably never will, but as a family we know that Console are always there and only a phone call away,” she said.

If the Gary Speed Rooms help one person in mental health crisis, then that will be a success.

Speed was found by his wife hanged in his home on 27 November 2011 when he was 42 years old. An inquest returned a narrative verdict on his death and failed to confirm whether he had intended to die by suicide.

unnamed Gary's parents, Roger and Carol Speed, With his sister Leslie and CEO and founder of Console Paul Kelly at The House of Lords on Monday

The CEO and founder of Console, Paul Kelly, told TheJournal.ie about how the Speed family contacted the charity after Gary’s death.

“They made contact with us through a friend and we worked with the Speed family, supporting them through their grief and through their loss when Gary died,” he said.

The Speed family wanted to return the help that Console had given them and raised money for the counselling rooms through a series of golf classics attended by football stars such as Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and Gordon Strachan.

“We feel that the golf days have been a fitting memorial to Gary,” said Carol.

“People like Michael Owen have played in each one, and we also have had great support from the likes of Denis Taylor and former Welsh manager Mike England.”

Console

Console is dedicated to supporting people who feel that they are at risk of suicide as well as those bereaved after the death of a loved one by suicide. It was founded in 2002 by Kelly after the death of his sister.

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He said that the feelings of guilt and despair his family felt after the death is what inspired him to start the charity, which sought to help those recently bereaved by a loved one dying by suicide.

“I discovered very quickly that people who are bereaved by suicide -they’re very vulnerable and very much at risk,” he said
“And that’s why I founded Console initially – to support those who are bereaved by suicide and to help them through their grief and through their loss.”

Console has since grown into a nationwide suicide prevention charity in Ireland, with a 24-hour suicide helpline and centres in almost every county. Trained counsellors are employed to help those most at risk and it has a text-in service for people who don’t want to make a phone call.

After he gave a keynote note address at a Suicide Prevention and Bereavement conference in England in 2013, Kelly was approached by a number of English organisations – including the NHS and the Metropolitan Police – about setting up a similar service there.

“The UK has a slightly higher suicide rate per 100,00 people (11.9 compared to 11.1 in most recent confirmed statistics) and we feel that our highly specialised services can help make a difference in London and beyond,” he said.

Over 500 people die by suicide in Ireland every year and Console receives over 3,000 phone calls per-month on its Suicide Helpline. It raises much of the money needed for its services itself and is part funded by the HSE.

Console’s 24 helpline can be reached on 1800 247 247 or you can text HELP to 51444 or visit them on www.console.ie.

Helplines:

  • Console  1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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