The Cork mother of an 18-year-old girl who died by suicide following a campaign of online bullying has called on the Government to “open its eyes” to the mental health crisis sweeping the country.
Collette Wolfe from Carrigtwohill lost her daughter Leanne in 2007. She was away in Lanzarote with her husband when the couple received the devastating news.
“The world kind of died to us, to be honest, on the day of our daughter's death,” she said.
“After Leanne died we had no hope. And if you've no hope you've nothing to go on for. We entered a real, real dark horrible place. You'd be afraid to even say what you'd be thinking.”
In the years after the tragedy, Collette said she came out the other side purely “by the grace of God”. She said she found comfort in her faith after Leanne died, and believes she will one day see her daughter again.
In the immediate aftermath, however, Collette said her whole family found every day difficult.
“After Leanne died we lost everything. We went from never having money worries to losing everything. We couldn't even afford a bottle of milk because there wasn't the energy or the mind or the will to get up and go to work or to do anything at all. The whole ability of even functioning was just gone. The shock of it, the shock of any sudden death... it's a lot to bear,” she said.
“As far as I was concerned we had a very happy family. Things weren't perfect but our children had all the normal things and we had no money worries and Leanne had two parents that loved her and loved each other... and look what happened.”
Now, Collette and her husband go around Cork, and the country, in their spare time talking in schools and other facilities about mental health and suicide and sharing Leanne's story.
“Ireland has such a high suicide rate. It's frightening. You just don't know what's going on for people,” she said.
“Pieta House is doing a fabulous job, but at the moment they're inundated in Cork. The Government needs to step in. Something is not right. Look at the rates, they're going up, not down. It's very serious. Dublin gets an awful lot of attention and Cork is never a priority. But we have a big problem down here in Cork. I think the Government needs to wake up and open their eyes.”