THE mammoth efforts of three East Cork lads will help a Cobh-based suicide prevention charity to continue its good work in the community.
Breaking The Silence aims to connect people at risk of suicide with vital resources.
And Jack Wyse, Kyle Langford and Ciaran Cullinane took part in a one month challenge during the month of April to raise funds for it.
“This is a fantastic initiative from three young lads who approached us with the idea some weeks ago,” says John Mansworth, Chairman of Breaking the Silence.
The lads set out to cycle more than 430km, the distance between Cobh and Belfast, and at the same time were completing in a sea swimming challenge.
The trio, who cycle and swim together, were delighted to raise funds for a charity that does amazing work in Cork and beyond.
“We are friends who got to know each other through secondary school,” says Jack, 20. “As the years went on, we grew closer.”
Why did the lads decide to take on this worthwhile challenge for suicide prevention?
“We decided to do it to raise awareness that people are suffering in silence and that there’s help out there,” says Jack.
Times can be hard for people sometimes, and especially during the pandemic.
“In times like this especially, we want more people to speak up,” says Jack.
We shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, and should not be afraid to talk to a friend or a family member with what’s on our mind.
“The challenge we wanted to do is in itself a way to raise awareness, doing a physical challenge to prove that anything is possible once you put your mind to it, to reflect that mental health battles can be gotten through as well.”
We can all make progress one step at a time.
“With the swim and the bike for a month, we said we’d take it day-by-day. We’re almost there now,” says Jack, speaking to me about the last leg of their challenge a few days ago.
“With the physical aspect of the bike and the mental battle of the swim, we thought it would be a good test for ourselves and also prove that anything is possible with positivity and hope.”
Jack adds: “Over the years we have all been in that dark place.”
But there are ways and means to see the light again.
How did the lads set about their challenge?
“We cycled 30km every second day consecutively,” says Jack. “And we did a swim every second day.”
The lads pushed the boat out.
“On the weekends we went further and pushed for a 50km cycle because we were not working.
“When we swim we go into the water with just our shorts; no wetsuits. We go in to the depth of our body height and we swim for 10 to 15 minutes.”
They plunged into the ocean despite some poor weather.
“The aim of this challenge is to show that everyone goes through bad times sometimes and it’s OK to feel down,” says Jack.
“You are never alone. We hope to raise €4,000 for Breaking the Silence.”
Keeping negative mental thoughts at bay can present its own challenges. The Big Bad Wolf can be kept from the door with positive thinking.
“Put it this way,” says Jack. “There are two wolves; one is negative, doubtful, unhappy, and feeling anxious, thinking nothing can go right and things will never get better. He is called the bad wolf.
“On the other side there’s a good wolf. He’s full of positivity, happiness, and hope, knowing that better days lie ahead and that anything is possible.
“The two wolves represent everyday thoughts. It’s just a matter of which wolf you feed.”
Kyle understands the analogy of the bad wolf and the good wolf.
“I know the effects it has. It is partly the reason why I undertook the challenge,” he says.
Was the thought of the cycle/swim challenge daunting?
“The challenge itself sounds daunting,” says Kyle. “But it’s mostly a mental challenge rather than a physical challenge.”
Kyle has a positive attitude.
“Your mind plays tricks on you, thinking that it’s going to be impossible with no previous training, but in reality the body adapts and overcomes any situation thrown at it.”
The lads didn’t mind being thrown in the deep end.
“The day after the cycle, we head down to the beach and run into the water for at least 10 minutes, fully soaked.”
They stick it out, come hell or high water.
“Some days we try to stay in the water longer depending on what the temperature is,” says Kyle.
“This isn’t just beneficial to our recovery from the cycle, but it is also a mental challenge in itself.”
Kyle knows that team effort is rewarding.
“Breaking the Silence is proud sponsor of Cobh Ramblers FC,” says Kyle. “Most importantly, we hope to raise awareness and maybe give hope to those people who are suffering in silence.”
Ciaran isn’t silent on why he is taking on the monumental challenge with his mates.
“We felt we needed to do this challenge and raise awareness, after one of us had a really hard time mentally in the past year,” says Ciaran.
“It took him over a year to speak up and let us in; into what’s going on.
The bad wolf is often lurking, waiting for an opportunity to surface.
“Talking to people and seeking help was vital,” says Ciaran. “The person felt it was weak to speak up but we wanted to show that it’s not. It is brave and it is a real challenge.”
The cycle/swim mission is a real challenge for a great cause.
“We wanted to reflect the courage and strength it takes for those going through a hard time mentally to speak up,” says Ciaran.
“That’s why we combined the physical challenge of the cycle with the mental element of going into the sea every second day.”
The three troupers have an important message for us.
“It’s okay to feel down and speak up; something that people, and young men in particular, find really hard.”
Jack, Kyle, and Ciaran, brimming with positivity, are never out of their depth.
“We wake up at 7.30am. then work 8am to 4.30pm. During the challenge, depending what day we were on, we cycled 30km or swam in the sea. The distance cycled in April was 430km; the equivalent of Cobh to Belfast.
And with the east Cork lads all in it together; working as a pack for a common goal, motivated and driven with positivity. they achieved mighty things to help break the silence.
ABOUT BREAKING THE SILENCE
Breaking the Silence is a Cobh-based voluntary group that works to help create a Suicide Safer Community by connecting the person at risk of suicide with life preserving resources.
It specialises in Suicide Prevention Training, and was started by volunteers in 2007 after a high number of deaths by suicide in the area.
Since being set up, Breaking the Silence has trained people all around Ireland.
It is recognised as a leading voluntary group on driving suicide awareness and provides free programmes across Cork city and county in the areas of suicide intervention and Prevention. i.e Suicide First-Aid.
The charity provides both safeTALk and ASSIST Training Programmes, both of which are world standard in this area.
John Mansworth, Chairman of Breaking the Silence, is full of praise and admiration for Jack, Kyle and Ciaran.
“They wanted to physically and mentally test themselves with this gruelling challenge while raising money and awareness for Breaking the Silence,” says John.
“Given that they are either 20 or 21 is even more impressive.
“We have been blown away by the engagement online as we followed their journey, and indeed by the donations as well.
“We would also like to thank Cobh Ramblers FC for their support in this and also Jim Wyse who has helped the lads with bikes, gear, and support.
Donations can be made here: idoante.ie/cycle4bts.