“If someone goes into hospital and says they're unstable or suicidal, they shouldn’t be allowed back out"

By Maurice Garvey

KNOWN in Clondalkin as “Mr Suicide the Taxi Man” isn’t a moniker that John Quinn is particularly fond of, but it is one he doesn’t mind as long as he can “get through to one person.”

John spoke powerfully at Clondalkin Talks this week about his experiences and encouraged young people to reach out to someone if they are feeling down.

John Quinn Clondalkin Talks 13042017

Greenfort resident John has campaigned vigorously for mental health services in the area, ever since losing his youngest son Sean (17) to suicide 12 years ago.

The loss caused horrendous pain for John and his family, but he has found some solace in helping others, and always has his phone on in case someone calls looking for help.

“I’ve only refused one person in that time and that was because there was a €25k bounty on their head,” he said.

“I’m not sitting there in a house or a car with the person. I told his mother to tell him to get out of the country. He is no good to his kids if he is dead or dies by suicide.”

John is forthright and down to earth, qualities that endear him to people that know him in the area or through his role with Clondalkin Equine Club.

After the tragic death of Sean in 2005, John became involved in local suicide workshops, subsequently joining Pieta House, where he has steered hundreds of people towards help.

“If Pieta House opened a year earlier I firmly believe Sean would still be here today,” said John.

“I was at 13 suicide funerals between 2005-06 within a two-mile radius. People were wondering why I was turning up. I wanted to let the parents see there was support.

“I found Sean at home, done CPR, had to phone his brother who lived nearby, and ring his other brother, who had just gone away on holiday to Spain. Then there was the domino effect with Sean’s classmates in St Kevin’s College. It’s an absolute nightmare. I started this in the hope of helping one family.”

John believes that suicide is ‘a permanent solution to a temporary problem’ and, if enough people have the right information on how to help the person at risk, suicide can be prevented.

Sean had attempted suicide a few months prior to his death, but when John tried to get him counselling, he was told the nearest time available was 13 weeks.

John managed to get it down to seven weeks and Sean started counselling.

However on June 19, 2005, Sean called his father to say he wasn’t feeling well, and when John got him home, the youngster started to hyperventilate.

Sean was seen at Blanchardstown Hospital, told the doctor he was feeling suicidal, and was released two hours later.

This system failure, which still exists today, is one that causes immense pain for families like the Quinns.

“If someone goes into hospital and says they're unstable or suicidal, they shouldn’t be allowed back out,” said John.

“If I’ve a broken leg or arm, the hospital will deal with it. But if my mind is broken, it needs to be investigated, weekly therapy, it may need medication. In my estimation, the doctor didn’t know what to do. It hasn’t changed today.”

Three weeks after being discharged from Blanchardstown, Sean died.

John continued: “I don’t blame the hospital. What’s the point? My anger has mellowed after 12 years, but I do blame the system. We have 10 suicides a week in Ireland.”

“We all have our bad days,” said John.

“Most of the people I’ve referred towards Pieta House in Lucan and Ballyfermot. It really does what it says on the tin.”

Anyone affected by the content in the story can contact Pieta House Lucan 601000, Ballyfermot 6235606, www.pieta.ie, or the Samaritans 24 hour Freephone helpline 116123 www.samaritans.org or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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