Newswire » Local News » Interview with John Quinn from Pieta House

Interview with John Quinn from Pieta House

John Quinn, Pieta House

This is an interview that took place around this time last year with the FRG’s Alan Finn asking the questions. We never got around to publishing it at the time, but after coming across it recently, we really felt the need to share it with you. So here it is, better late than never…

John Quinn works for Pieta House, a non profit organisation that provides a free, specialised
treatment programme for people who have suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harming.  John became an activist for Pieta House after his son took his own life.  What follows is an interview with him and our own Alan Finn.

When I asked how he felt after his son’s death he said that there were no words to be able to describe that feeling, he himself didn’t work after his son taking his life for nearly 7 weeks, spending most of that time he sat at home in a depressed state watching TV although he cant remember what he watched.  He felt that it was like having a constant hunger pain, except when you ate the pain didn’t go away.

John became involved with Pieta house after he went to see a series of plays with his wife and his sister. There were 3 short 20 minute plays with the central theme being suicide and alcohol. After the plays people in the audience were able to ask the representatives of the organisation any questions, there were 3 young girls there who wanted to know why there was alcohol in each play, they couldn’t understand it. It was then that John, a member of the audience, turned around and said that he had lost a son to suicide four months prior.  John explained to the girls that the day his son took his own life, he had dinking a couple of bottles of beer. John pointed out to them that drink doesn’t necessarily mean you get a buzz out of it, it can take a person into a lower place and you don’t have to drink many bottles or cans. When the Q and A had finished, the three girls had learned a lot about suicide and John just happen to speak to a woman of the committee her name was Joan Freeman after that he became involved with Pieta House.

The conversation changed towards the issue of bullying and how it can affect a person’s mental state, I asked John’s thoughts on the matter. “Bullying is a form of torture, it’s wrong if doesn’t matter if you are a school kid or you are an adult, if your living in a apartment a house and some one is saying nasty things about you, it’s not healthy for anyone’s mind who is getting bullied, it can take a person right down into a dark period, and some people may be looking at a way of getting out off been bullied, and that’s when a person is in their right state of mind, last week we only had that 13 year old from the Country who took her own life, she is not the 1st and she may not be the last, I would certainly hope she will be. Kids don’t have the cop on when they are slagging other kids, the damage this can cause, its bullying when a person is been mentally tortured”

I asked John did he think the Government has or have played their part in this tragic subject this is what he said:

“I think the government are a disgrace, past, present, H.S.E, and anything that goes along with it, if we were having the same road deaths as we are with suicide, there would be murder in the Dáil, years ago the government spent millions on road safety, that’s why there are few road deaths to-day, than suicide deaths. Now it’s time the government, H.S.E, spent millions and who knows in a few years we could have a great success and because the government done a great media coverage with the road safety, we too could have fewer death rates.”

I related to John that I had recently spoke to a taxi driver who informed me that in the last 10 years up to 25 taxi drivers have taken their lives how come example the taxi regulator have never put it out there?

“Alan it’s not only the Taxi business who are losing to suicide, we never get to hear about school teachers who take their own lives, for whatever the reason, I don’t think we should blame the taxi regulator, but taxi suicide is on the increase whatever the reason either been financial, bills, etc.  There could be 40 builders who have taken their life and we hear nothing about that or school teachers and we won’t hear about that, unless we happen to know someone or some one knows someone else. Like all business Alan, the taxi trade has suffered too, and because of the slow trade, etc, this can add unnecessary struggle to our people too.”

John, you spoke just recently about Pieta opening up a new centre in the west of Ireland, what’s the progress on that?

“Alan, we had a new site ready thanks to a gentleman called John Cullcannon, who appeared on a  TV  documentary, “the Secret Millionaire”, not only did John give Pieta House a generous donation of €25,000 but then he bought a site in Galway and paid for it to be ran for a year, which normally would cost around €250,000!  We were hoping it would open in Oct/Nov of this year, however the deal fell through and they are now looking at a new site and hopefully, we’ll launch at the end of January. If anyone is having any problems they can phone any of the other 5 Centres and they will get help, you can phone our branches in Ballyfermot on 01-6200020, mobile 087-6903236, Finglas 01-8648899, Lucan 01-6010000, Tallaght 01-601-00-00 or Limerick 061-48-44-44.  Or go on to the web at, you will be looked after”

John, I know things are hard for everyone here in Ireland, but if anyone has any spare cash and they would like to donate it to you or Pieta house how would they go about it?

“You can email and/or you can request what is called or known as “Pennies for Pieta house” box, Pieta will post one out to you, and you can stick it beside your TV or on your sitting room table, it’s like a Trocairce box, people fill it up and when its full return the cash to us, Mary will tell you exactly what to do with your box that’s full. Also if a person needs help Pieta house will always be opened, and its free to all who needs help.”

Also, John if a person/group would like to fundraise how would they get in touch with pieta house to do a fundraiser?

“Recently up in the Neilstown, we ran a Pieta week, we had a cakes, odd sock day, in some schools and non uniform days at local schools, it even went down to Kylemore College, we only asked €1.00 of each person, we raised over €20,000 and we at Pieta house are delighted with everybody up there in Neilstown & Ballyfermot, for doing this wonderful gesture for us. Every cent counts give a little, it really helps a lot. You can get in touch with Mary or at one of the phone lines above”

Is suicide on the rise in Ireland?

“Yes and it seems to be big with young girls and teenagers, take the recent death off the little 13 year old girl, these are only kids.”

We have the 5th highest suicide rate in the European Union and it seems to be predominately affect males under 25, why do feel this is the case John?

“Males under the age of 25 are very high for some unknown reason, but as I just said it’s on the rise with young girls who are well under 20 years of age. After the tragic death of that girl who was being bullied, it’s vital if you or any one you know that is been bullied, to report it to someone you can trust. Bullying has to stop. Now if you are getting bullied on say the web or say on Facebook delete these people from your friends if they are on your list, if they are on friends list as mutual friends please tell your friends your situation, and true friends will help you tell your parents.  If necessary get your parents to go to a Garda station and make a complaint hopefully it won’t come to this.”

We ended the interview by informing John that only last Christmas, and again during the year that we at the Fountain ran a very successful campaign on bullying.  It is important to remember that if you are depressed or are being bullied that you phone any of the different charities who are there to help you.

Remember Pieta House has 5 centres in Ireland and their front door never shuts or the phones are never turned off you need to inform them your situation. Please phone Pieta House.

Ballyfermot 01-6200020.
Mobile 087-6903236.
Lucan 01 – 6010000.
Tallaght 01-6010000.
Finglas 01-8648899.
Co Limerick 061-484444

We would sincerely like to thank John Quinn for taking the time to talk to us here at the Fountain Resource Group.

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