A city teenager who lost close friends to suicide has recorded a CD to raise funds for the national suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console.
Singer/songwriter Maria O’Dowd (18 ) from Lurgan Park in Renmore will launch her debut CD Time 2 Talk at An Púcán Bar and Restaurant Forster Street, on Wednesday at 9pm.
The NUI Galway arts student was aged just seven years when she first began singing for Console.
“My mother Jacqueline O’Dowd is a singer and I would accompany her each year when she sang at the Console Celebration of Light service in Galway. I also sang with her in The National Concert Hall and Vicar Street in Dublin.”
Maria is appealing to people who are feeling down to avail of help and support from Console.
“The organisation has always been close to my heart because of the fantastic work it does supporting people in crisis and those who have been bereaved by suicide. I have lost friends to suicide so I want to get the message out there that hope and help is always available at Console.”
Inspired by American bluegrass and country music Maria’s CD contains two songs called Memories and Friends.
“The song Friends is about a young friend of mine who was bullied and who turned to me for help. The song also celebrates the people we share our lives with. As the chorus line says, ‘When we have no-one else to turn to, friends will hold your hand, they’ll understand.’
“I wrote Memories after my grandfather passed away. It is about the heartfelt agony of losing somebody close. A feeling all of us share many times in our lives.”
Writing two contrasting pieces of work led Maria to believe that these two emotions are simply two sides of the one coin. “In every walk of life, it is always important to make time to talk,” she says.
Maria plays piano and guitar and she is accompanied on Time 2 Talk by local musicians Chris Fahy and Ray Diamond playing slide and electric guitars. Musicians Mairin Fahy, Chris Fahy, Ray Diamond and special guest Marc Roberts will appear with Maria at Wednesday night’s launch which is being sponsored by An Púcán.
Console’s project development manager Margaret Tierney, who is based at the Galway Technology Park, thanked Maria for her efforts on behalf of the local organisation.
“As a student at Salerno Secondary School, Maria won the Emily Feeney Generosity of Spirit Award, which gives you an indication of the high calibre and esteem in which she is held.”
Ms Tierney said recently that she believes young people are under increasing pressure today from a number of sources, including the competitive CAO points system, financial worries in the home, relationship problems, social media and bullying.
“People ask what is driving our young people to suicide and they often say it’s drink. But there are other pressures out there, they get depressed and then there is social media. Cyber bullying is one of the major issues facing the young.”
Console, which responds to the needs of people bereaved by suicide as well as those who are suicidal, reported a 15 per cent increase in demand for its service in the past year. Calls to the charity’s 24 hour national freefone helpline (1800-247-247 or text 51444 ) - which offers a telephone counselling service - have increased from 3,000 to 4,000 per month.
“More people are realising there is help out there for them and are willing to talk about how they feel,” says Ms Tierney. “Console started out working with families after a suicide now we are also involved in prevention and intervention. Our helpline offers more than a listening service, we make sure people who call us at a time of crisis get the help they need. People were also calling the helpline because a friend or relative had taken their own life and they were feeling vulnerable.”
Console offers counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide (Freephone 1800 247 247 ). Counselling is available for individuals, couples, families or children who have been affected by suicide.