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tears flow Viewers share bullying stories after harrowing RTE special on Eden Heaslip's tragic death

'Watching that made me cry. That was nearly me many years ago but something stopped me'

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Eden Heaslip

Eden Heaslip

Eden Heaslip

Last night’s devastating Prime Time focus on Cavan teen Eden Heaslip, who took his own life after years of relentless bullying, has left viewers across the country reeling. 

The hard-hitting RTE documentary revealed how Eden died last September, just two weeks after his 18th birthday.

The programme reported how four months on, his parents, Maggie and Raymond, and siblings, Chloe and Finn, have been left devastated.

They told how Eden was bullied for years during his time in secondary school and suffered from mental health issues as a result of the physical and verbal abuse.

The family have now started an anti-bullying campaign in honour of Eden, called Be Buddies Not Bullies, but their lives will never be the same.

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Finn, Maggie, Chloe, Raymond and Eden Heaslip (left to right). Photo: RTÉ.

Finn, Maggie, Chloe, Raymond and Eden Heaslip (left to right). Photo: RTÉ.

Finn, Maggie, Chloe, Raymond and Eden Heaslip (left to right). Photo: RTÉ.

The shocking details of Eden’s short life and death has left people across the country stunned and saddened, with some taking to social media to relate their own experiences at the hands of bullies.

Broadcaster Adrian Kennedy tweeted that he had “just been watching and hearing about poor Eden ending his life last September over bullying”.

“I often wonder how I survived the bullying I suffered when I was Eden’s age. Happily, I did. I survived. But it never leaves you. It never goes away. RIP Eden.”

Dozens of people replied with one writing: “Bullies now are a different level, online, on the streets, in school etc..

"I was bullied for years as a kid. I'm now 50 & still get a knot in my stomach when I watch or read bullying stories. That poor kid Eden. There has to be a better system.”

Another added: “Watching that made me cry. That was nearly me many years ago but something stopped me. To his family and friends, I hope they’re ok. Bullying should result in criminal charges.”

Other social media users added their thoughts on the pain and anguish that Eden endured.

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“Nobody should have to endure what Eden went through. More needs to be done. Legislation that makes bullying a criminal offence is needed ASAP,” one person wrote.

Another tweeted: “Bullying should be shown to every 6th class primary school. It would be a proper education.”

One person said: “Imagine making someone feel so bad about themselves that they want to end their life? Heartbreaking - ‘Be Buddies, Not Bullies’.

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Eden Heaslip

Eden Heaslip

Eden Heaslip

The Heaslips revealed how they noticed changes in Eden’s behaviour when he started secondary school.

"He would have come home in the evenings and be straight to his room. He didn't seem to be happy in himself," Raymond told Prime Time.

His father put this down to a teenager "doing his thing". He said that whenever he asked Eden if everything was okay, Eden would insist that it was.

Things came to a head one Friday night in November 2020, when Eden was in fifth year. For a few hours, he went missing from home.

"I met him on the road," Raymond recalled. "I said, 'Eden, what’s wrong?’ He said, ‘nothing, Dad. I just wanted to clear my head’.

"I said, ‘Is it bullying Eden?' He said, ‘It is, Dad.’ I said, ‘At least now that you have told me, we can do something about it.’"

The Heaslips arranged private counselling for Eden and contacted Fr Jason Murphy, a family friend, to come and have a chat with their 17-year-old son.

"He talked about bullying that he experienced over a period of years, and he talked about it without any form of emotion, Fr Jason told Prime Time.

"And the tears just flowed from my eyes – just listening to the pain that he was going through," he said.

It was only the following summer that Eden talked to his father in detail about the extent of the bullying he had endured.

With tears in his eyes, Raymond told Prime Time that his heart raced when Eden described one type of incident.

"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".

"I would be just walking, and they will just kick me," Raymond recalled Eden telling him.

They also singled Eden out as his parents have a mixed marriage with Maggie, Eden’s mother, a Catholic, while Raymond is Church of Ireland.

"Somebody's banter is somebody else's pain," Maggie told Prime Time.

"Maybe these young fellas think, ‘oh, it's only banter, I didn't really mean it,’ but if you were getting it all the time, every day, it is pain. And I know that, for Eden, it was pain for him."

And, even at home, Eden was tormented. "Eden told me before he died that he got it on every sort of social media," said Chloe, his older sister.

Eden celebrated his 18th birthday last September. Shortly afterwards, he decided to leave school and start an apprenticeship, fulfilling his long-held ambition of becoming a mechanic.

"A few days before he died, Eden came to me and he said that he had been offered an apprenticeship. He was full of joy," said Fr Jason.

During their conversation, Eden mentioned that he had seen Fr Jason at an anniversary mass for a young man who had died by suicide the previous year.

Fr Jason asked Eden: "I just want to be sure that you wouldn’t think of something like that?"

"God, no. Don’t worry. This is a new chapter in my life," said Eden. "I’m starting this apprenticeship, and it’s going to be a new beginning.

"He had me fully convinced. Absolutely. I left without any concerns, because he was so happy," said Fr Jason.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by Heaslip family and can be accessed here.

Stickers are €5 each and can be purchased online by visiting the SmileForMe Facebook page. Or use this link here to buy one online.

if you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, contact the Samaritans on 116 123; Pieta House on 1800 247 247 or text HELLO to 50808, a free 24/7 text support service for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis.

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