Senseless suffering | 

Senator calls for anti-bullying legislation in the wake of tragic death of Eden Heaslip

'We’re going to have some difficulties because some the people that are perpetrating these particular crimes on children like Eden are under the age of 18'

Eden Heaslip

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A Senator has called for anti-bullying legislation to be passed in the wake of the tragic death of Eden Heaslip who took his own life after being subjected to relentless torment at the hands of bullies.

Eden, of Killynanum, Carrickaboy in Cavan, was just 18 years old when his body was found on Monday, September 20.

Sharon Keoghan asked for legislators to "hear the Heaslip family" when she spoke in the Seanad yesterday to "put a stop to this senseless suffering".

However, on this morning's Joe Finnegan Show, on Northern Sound, the Independent Meath Senator admitted there were difficulties in implementing such legislation.

“We’re going to have some difficulties because some the people that are perpetrating these particular crimes on children like Eden are under the age of 18,” she said. “So how do we combat that?

“That is a question that we're going to have to sit down and walk through as legislators and provide legislation, to be able to have some deterrents there for juveniles.

“That is really what we're going to have to do.”

The Senator was speaking after the family of the young Cavan boy went on radio to appeal to parents to speak to their own children about the issue.

Speaking to Northern Sound FM his parents, Raymond and Maggie, described the torment suffered by Eden before his death.

Raymond revealed how Eden had been subjected to “every form of bullying”.

“Anything that could be done to Eden was done,” he said.

“He got it mentally, he got it physically, he got it by social media, and on phones.

"Even when he left school, they were still after him. They never left him alone. And that’s what ended poor Eden’s life.”

“It was heartbreaking to hear the stories (of the bullying),” he added.

“Even Fr Jason didn't tell us, he just said ‘it’s bad, it's really, really bad’. He said it was so bad the Guards should be involved.”

Eden’s sobbing mum Maggie said every parent has to talk to their child “because I thought I could protect him”.

“I’m his mother. I thought I could keep him alive forever.

"He was my baby, and I can't imagine another mother sitting here (like this). I am in pain today because it's not right, something has to be done about it.

“It’s going on everywhere, in every place, so we just have to talk, that's it, just talk to your children, please.”

Yesterday, the priest who spoke at the funeral mass for Eden revealed the pain the teen endured in the years before he died.

Fr Jason Murphy told Northern Sound FM how he had sat down with Eden one night at his parents’ house when the teen opened up to him.

“I was there for a few hours, and he sat under a portrait of his family, a very beautiful portrait of him and his parents and his brother and sister.

“We just sat there, and we got talking for 20 minutes and then we gently went into his story.

“He started at the beginning, and how this had gone on for a period of four years since he was very young 12, or 13, and how it was a constant.

"He had befriended (the pain he was in). It was nearly like a malevolent figure that was walking by his side every day, a shadowy figure.

“Sometimes he would get distracted from it being there and sometimes then he'd forget.

“And then it would come back then to be very present, and it would tip him on the shoulder.

"He was reminded of its presence every time that somebody said something, every time an orange was thrown at him and every time he was called, as Raymond told you, the names that he was.

“Every time he got a box, it was like the wound was open and the nerve endings were there, and you touched the nerve endings and again it all came back.

“That figure touched him on the shoulder and said, ‘yes, you are useless, you're nothing, you're just as I told you before’.

“That's how it was, and that's how he spoke about it. He spoke about it as if that person was sitting at the table with us, this malevolent force, this malevolent figure, and he spoke about it without emotion, as if he was talking about something else.

“I sat there, looking at this portrait above him and looking at Eden telling me this without emotion and involuntarily the tears just came, and they flowed out of my eyes.

“Here was I, looking at this young man at 17. I could put myself in his shoes and try to feel something of what he was feeling and how low he felt, and the tears just came.

“I remember him taking the kitchen roll and giving me a sheet of it to dry my eyes and he made me tea, as if he was comforting me, but it was him that was enduring the pain.

“But it had become so normal for him, it was his every day, it was his normality, and if he had a day that he forgot about the presence of this malevolent force, this shadowy figure or whatever it was, it was a good day.

“But then it would come back again, and it would come back with force, and it made its presence really felt. They were the low days, that he went there in the bed, and he couldn't face the world.

“These were the days when he felt he would never escape its hold.”

Fr Murphy also spoke at Eden’s funeral mass in St Matthew’s Church, Drumavaddy, when he told the congregation how the young man and confided in him.

“He told me of a suffering he had carried within, a suffering that no man with shoulders broader than his could ever endure. I sat and I cried in front of this boy as he told me of his every day, a pain of the heart and a pain of the mind, that had left scars deep - deep where no one could see.

“He told me of this pain without emotion as if this was to be his normal and every day, a pain he had come to accept, a pain that in fact he had befriended. It had become part of who he was, stripping him of the joy that should accompany teenage years,” Fr Jason said.

The Breifne College Chaplain also called on people to be conscious of their actions.

“Words hurt, actions hurt, excluding people, allowing them to feel unwanted or worthless or so very small so that you can grow bigger in the eyes of others. We all participate if we stand by and say nothing whether it is as children in a playground or as adults allowing others to be demeaned.

“Having heard the pain that Eden went through, I must repeat what I said at Matthew Gaffney and Jason Cobey’s funeral who both died but a year ago, just a stone’s throw away, that taking your own life is not the answer."

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