Sunday, 1 February 2015


The late Mark Logan - A man who loved life and saved lives.

Last night I dreamed I was walking along Raven Terrace towards the Claddagh, when I felt a finger tap me on my shoulder. Turning around I was equally delighted and confused to see my friend Mark Logan, who died ridiculously young last Spring.

Sporting a rugged full-set beard that accentuated his magnificent chin, Mark appeared as full of life as ever.

“Great to see you mate, but how ... what are you doing here?”
“I’m heading into town, Charlie!” he replied nonchalantly, with a jaunty bounce in his step.  Putting his arm around my back in a comforting embrace he asked:

“So what about the Chelsea, eh? Never mind that FA Cup disaster, I think we’re going to win both the Premiership and the Champions League this season!”

It was such a pleasure to spend some time with him, even if it was in another realm. People say that death takes the good ones early, but irony was spread all over this particular tragedy, as Mark spent his life working to save the lives of others.

In a beautifully eloquent and deeply moving eulogy, his young widow spoke at his funeral of the calls she had received from people whose lives had been saved by Mark, through his work in suicide prevention and mental health.

Mark used to encourage us all to say ‘hello’ to strangers on the street.

“You never know,” he’d smile, “something as simple as that might save a life.”

Suicide prevention is a subject very close to my heart and many years ago I served for a while on a committee that sought to reduce the number of young male suicides in a particular area of Galway.

Sadly, I found the experience incredibly frustrating, because there seemed to me to be a glaring and evident truth that everyone was ignoring: the terrifyingly large number of young men who kill themselves in Ireland is mirrored by the incredibly small number of openly gay men in this country. 

Having lived and worked in three continents, I’ve never met so few Out Loud and Proud men as I have here in Ireland.

I’m not ignoring the female population, but according to the National Suicide Research Foundation, out of 507 Irish suicides in 2012, a staggering 413 were male.

That is quite simply an unacceptable state of affairs.

Many of the members of that committee refused to acknowledge the link I was making, yet I stuck to my guns. Sadly I did my argument no favours by trying to shock them into acceptance. Looking around the table at 20 middle-aged people, I pointed out that there were in the room at least two lesbians, two gay men and a minimum of four bisexuals.

These tactics achieved nothing but a chorus of tutting and mumbles along the lines of:

“Well, there’s no need for that kind of thing!”

Doubtless some of you are reacting now just as those committee members did. After all,  didn’t you once meet a gay man yourself?

Since then the Irish have made huge progress in this area, thanks in no small way to the likes of High Court Judge Aileen Donnelly, health minister Leo Varadkar, sporting heroes like Donal Og Cusack and more recently his brother Conor, important public figures who came out to the nation.

Yet still people here misunderstand the nature of sexuality. There are no border gates, no passport controls. It’s not a matter of being ‘this’ or ‘that’. We are all blends in a gently varying spectrum that runs from completely heterosexual to completely homosexual, so it’s a rare person who cannot empathise is some small way with the confusion felt by so many others.

As Conor Cusack explained on his blog: "Life for me is never black or white but more about different shades of grey."

Despite the selfless bravery of these famous people, it would be a mistake to believe that Ireland has become an accepting nation, which welcomes gay men and women with open arms. Indeed, children here still use the word ‘gay’ everyday in Irish school playgrounds as a term of abuse.

We’ve a long way to go until everyone knows that LGBT isn’t some kind of a sandwich; until every Irish parent explains to their children that being gay or lesbian is nothing to be ashamed of; until Irish adults stop assuming that only people who display camp characteristics are likely to be bisexual or homosexual.

As my eyes scan Ireland’s terrifying suicide statistics, my heart breaks when I think of those lonely terrified depressed young teenagers who feel they have nowhere to turn; nobody to confide in.

There’s a vast difference between a confident government minister revealing his sexuality on national radio, and a young man in a small rural community facing the prospect of coming out to his team-mates in the changing rooms of his local parish GAA.

So what can we do to help? Well thankfully, there’s a lot of positive and direct action we can take to help remove this fatal blight from the nation.

Of all the various training courses I’ve done over the years, none has affected me so profoundly, positively and practically as the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) course, which, as it happens, was also one of the courses conducted by my late friend Mark Logan.

Over two days you will be taught how to identify potential suicides, recognise requests for help that come in many disguises, as well as being shown how to intervene both before and even during an attempted suicide.

Doing the ASIST course was a fantastic experience, replacing the frustration I was feeling with realistic and powerful new skills. Indeed, a few days after the course, a colleague of mine used his new skills to save a life.

So act now. Enroll in an ASIST course today and help release those imprisoned by the bigotry and ignorance of others. Call the National Office for Suicide Prevention on 01-6352139 or E-mail:

©Charlie Adley

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