The Conference was kicked off by the Heathers singing some of their up beat joyful songs! Everyone was clapping and tapping to the sound of the beat. From then on in, an indescribable atmosphere in the RDS was created!
After the Heathers, Jim Breen, the organiser of The Cycle against Suicide took to the stage. He talked about how important our mental health is and that 'it's ok not to feel ok'. He also reminded us how everyone is affected by suicide and that 'together we can break the cycle'.
Jim invited many students from schools across the nation to speak about what they did to help break the cycle. Some schools had great video clips about mental health. We learned alot from them such as the importance of telling someone if you are feeling low. Everyone was shocked to find out how important it is to have someone you can trust in your life and to hear about lots of people who chose not to speak about their issues, or not get any help.
Four sports people talked to us about how they struggle with their mental health. How they got help, how they talked to their family and friends, how they coped and how against all odds they found just a small amount of hope and managed to find a light at the end of the tunnel. They told us when things are not going your way, to keep on going, because life won't always be like that.
The eye widener of the day came when Donal Walsh's Dad told us the story of Donal's life. Donal battled terminal cancer from the age of twelve. His message was to chose to live your life, because he had no choice. Donal's friends stood on the stage with the expressions of hurting and loss written all over each of their faces. Everyone in the audience was moved to tears to hear about Donal. But the sadness his father and friends carry showed us all what death does, and what would be created if we were to commit suicide.
Four musicians were next to tell their stories. It's hard to believe that even our role models have mental health problems. Bressie opened up to us about realising that something was wrong with him when he was our age. He told us that his doctor did not help him, and how he went to the extent of breaking his own arm in the hope that the hospital doctors would know what the problem was. He talked about his frustration with his mental issues and how he copes. It is such a comforter to know that even our stars can have mental health problems. "It can happen to anyone". The other musicians also told us how they get through each day. From opening the curtains for light, to doing press ups and being able to list thirty things to be grateful for each day, are all ways in which our stars cope.
The story which we all connected with the most was the life story of a light hearted school principal. He told us how he fell in love with his wife, that she passed away and the dark patch he was plunged into. He shared with us what she used to say to him whenever he was having a bad day."You are lovely, you are lovable and you are loved!"
To leave on a high note, the Heathers came back on stage, returning the concert like atmosphere. They sang "Remember when" and "Forget me knots". Both songs had powerful lyrics to reflect the day beautifully.
The Cycle against Suicide leadership conference was best day of Transition year by far. We now believe that "it's ok not to feel ok and that it's more than ok to ask for help". Whenever we are feeling low, just remember "you are lovely, you are lovable and you are loved!" And "Together we CAN break the cycle of suicide".