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'He told us his head was melted. The help didn't come quick enough'

Aiveen Cully-Dunne shares the pain of losing a sibling to suicide, ahead of #DIL2018.

THIS YEAR’S DARKNESS Into Light walk takes place on Saturday May 12th in aid of Pieta House, proudly supported by Electric Ireland. Participants in more than 170 locations, on four continents, will walk the 5km route to raise funds for Pieta House and awareness for those who need mental health support in Ireland.

In the weeks leading up to it, people around Ireland will be sharing their own journeys from Darkness Into Light. For the fourth part of the series, Aiveen Cully-Dunne shares the story of losing her brother Enda to suicide and why she’s doing Darkness Into Light 2018.

‘My head is melted’

My brother Enda had literally just turned 32 when he passed away due to suicide. He suffered from mental health issues from the age of 17 and was bipolar. He had been in and out of treatment and on different medication but he was flying it helping out on the farm last summer before he died.

He went into Mam one night and told her he had called an ambulance for himself. He told us his head was melted and that he was going to get help. It was unusual for Enda as he was usually either really high or really low and you’d almost have to force him to go to hospital. This was the first time he made the move himself.

This was Thursday night and we were told there were no beds for him in the nearest hospital. There were no beds for him in another hospital 20 minutes away either as they closed the psychiatric unit there.

He then went to another hospital and was left waiting eight hours to see a psychiatrist. He hadn’t slept in a few days so they gave him something to sleep and told him he would get the first appointment when there was a bed available there.

The following Tuesday he killed himself.

At that stage he had had 15 years of going through mental illness. Maybe the medication wasn’t working the way it should have been but we think he asked for help and didn’t get the help he needed quick enough.

He had missed a few of his appointments because the system wasn’t right for him. He was getting injections but he had missed a few. Like any other illness that we lose people to, he had fought a battle.

The aftermath

Enda’s aunt and godmother Anne said that his mental illness took his past, it took his present and it took his future which he doesn’t have because he passed away – something that the priest used in his sermon at Enda’s funeral. A lot of people wouldn’t know that he had a mental health illness.

Enda died in August and it was a complete shock. We weren’t expecting it. I went to work on Tuesday morning and my husband came to my work and knocked on the door and shattered my world. He told me, ‘you need to come home. Enda is dead.’

You leave and think everyone is going to be grand and then you get the news you don’t think you’re ever going to hear. A lot of the time when people die by suicide, there’s no lead up. It’s a shock. Enda will be dead eight months and I’m only starting to grieve now. There’s the shock of it all and the funeral and you don’t really get a chance to take it in.

Talking about Enda helps me but it doesn’t help everyone. I know this sounds unusual but I talk to him all the time. I give out to him and I tell him when something good happens. If Liverpool win I say, ‘you’re working your magic up there again, Enda’. I don’t even support Liverpool but Enda did.


20171007_085118 Aiveen's brother Enda Aiveen Cully-Dunne Aiveen Cully-Dunne

Darkness Into Light was something I wanted to do for years and I did my first one last year with my friends for Enda in Edenderry. He had suffered with his mental health for years and I thought I’ll do it for Pieta House so I can help him and people like him.

A lot of people really liked Enda. He always had a smile for everyone. He’d walk to the village and go to the shop so a lot of people knew him. All his school friends wanted to help support so we set up #teamEnda to raise awareness for people who have mental health issues and set out target at €3,000.

His close friends were very supportive of Enda. If he was in the unit for a few months they’d go into him or he might be on day release and walk back to our hometown and not go back and the lads would pick him up and drop him back in.

The counsellor from Pieta House has been out to my mum and the family a few times and people don’t necessarily know about that service. I think for a lot of people it’s still such a taboo thing in Ireland. A lot of people are affected by it in different ways and we’re really starting to get into people’s minds that it is OK to talk about suicide.

My advice

20170506_052538 Aiveen and her friend Elaine Holton at Darkness Into Light Aiveen Cully-Dunne Aiveen Cully-Dunne

If someone is reading this and is thinking about suicide, please know that no-one can see that you’re struggling but there are absolutely people there to help if you do ask. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and reach out. You might not necessarily want to talk to family but talk to a friend or ring, email or text a professional (services listed below).

You’re not alone. There are others that have gone through it and Darkness Into Light just reinforces that. It’s hard because some people want to know your story and they’re trying to spot similarities or make sense of their own, but it really helps to know you’re not the only one who is going through it.

It affects more people than you think it does. A lot of people think it’s a small percentage but that’s only because you can’t look at somebody and know that they’ve had a mental health issue – you can’t see it.

Be careful what you say to people. Be kinder. Sly comments you made about somebody may not be the best thing for them to hear. Be nice to each other, you never know you might say the wrong thing to someone and it can really upset them.

Electric Ireland / YouTube

Wake up and walk from Darkness Into Light on May 12th at 4.15am in aid of Pieta House, proudly supported by Electric Ireland. Register at or follow the conversation on social media using #DIL2018.

If you need to talk, contact for free:

  • Pieta House 1800 247247 or email – (available 24/7)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email (available 24/7)
  • Aware 1800 804848 (depression, anxiety)
  • Childline 1800 666666 (for under 18s, available 24/7)

Aiveen Cully-Dunne
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