RAY LARKIN was the life and soul of the party.
When Offaly’s hurling fortunes were in the ascendant in the ‘80s and ‘90s, he was the county’s number one fan, earning a reputation in the national media for his colourful antics cheering on his team.
But deep inside it was a different story.
From about 18 years of age, a dark cloud of depression hovered over Ray, blighting his life.
His depression and anxiety were so crippling, that, at times, he was confined to bed, unable to face the world.
In October 2017, Ray’s mood reached such a low point he was on the verge of taking his own life.
But instead he reached out to his family, made contact with the professional mental health services available locally and now his life has been transformed.
”The depression invited me in saying there was no way I deserved to live,” recalls Ray.
He explained: “In that last split second I reached out . . . I was thinking of my family going to the graveyard for the Cemetery Mass in Rahan the following year.”
His family and the professionals attached to the Bannon Centre in Tullamore have been instrumental in his recovery as have the new friendships he had made through attending the outreach service provided by Aware.
Last April Ray organised a special Remembrance Mass in Killina Church followed by a walk along the Grand Canal for all those touched by suicide in Rahan parish and beyond.
The Mass and walk attracted hundreds of participants and Ray and his team raised over €1300 for Aware, which was presented to the organisation last Friday. [See accompanying photograph].
Ray would like to thank all those who took part in the events, made financial donations, provided food and refreshments and Fr Martin Carley P.P. who celebrated the Mass.
Now he is embarking on the 110 kilometre Camino pilgrimage to Santiago in northern Spain on September 14th to further highlight mental health issues and provide support to all those affected by suicide.
And the Rahan man has also designed a special t-shirt highlighting suicide awareness and remembering all those who have died by suicide.
”I will leave the Offaly and Shamrocks jerseys at the finish of the 110 km to Santiago for everyone in the parish and county that has been touched by suicide,” outlined Ray.