Eden Heaslip, a Cavan native, died last September. Four months on, his parents, Maggie and Raymond, and siblings, Chloe and Finn, spoke to Prime Time about how their lives will never be the same and how they have been left devastated by his suicide.
Eden grew up near the tiny village of Crosskeys in rural Cavan. His father, Raymond, fondly said Eden was a normal happy-go-lucky child and “the character of the family”.
Eden's father Raymond told Prime Time that they first noticed a change in Eden when he began secondary school. “He would have come home in the evenings and been straight to his room. He didn't seem to be happy in himself,” Raymond told Prime Time.
Maggie, Eden’s mother, is a Catholic. Raymond is Church of Ireland. “We are a mixed marriage here, and we have a happy mixed marriage. We learned to accept each other’s religions and we lived it,” Raymond said.
But, because Eden’s surname was “Heaslip”, a traditionally Protestant name in that area, the bullies came to a particular determination about him. “They were deciding, by their own ignorance, what he was, or who he was,” Raymond said.
The Heaslips arranged private counselling for Eden when he told his parents about his ordeal. They also contacted Fr Jason Murphy, a family friend, to come and have a chat with him.
Eden described one of the incidents to his dad: “Dad, they get me and they put my head down the toilet,” Eden told Raymond.
“It’s never one – it’s always a gang of them, laughing at me. And it’s never a clean toilet. It’s always the shittiest toilet. It’s always the dirtiest toilet they can get.”
Eden told his father that he was kicked often, describing it as “never ending”.
Eden struggled with his mental health and attended Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the HSE’s specialist service for people under the age of 18 with mental health difficulties.
Fr. Jason went to the hospital and sat with Eden after his death. “I went into the room and I stayed with him for a half an hour until his parents came in,” Fr Jason said. He talked to Eden, he said, as if he were still alive. "I was not fully convinced that he was dead because of the finality or the shock of it, having spoken to him only a couple of days before,” he said.
Reporter Conor McMorrow and producer Lydia Murphy’s report ‘After Eden' broadcasts tonight on Prime Time at 9.35pm on RTÉ One television.
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