'Huge Loss' | 

Louise Cooney says cousin’s death ‘doesn’t get easier’ as she launches Pieta campaign

Louise opened up about how Nicky's death continues to affect her family, especially his parents and four younger brothers.

Louise Cooney at the launch of Pieta’s Christmas Campaign #HopeOverSilence. Photo: James Crombie© ©INPHO/James Crombie

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Louise Cooney has said that her cousin’s death was a “worst-case scenario” and “doesn’t really get easier” for her family.

Nicky Cooney died by suicide at the age of 20 in August 2019.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Louise opened up about how Nicky's death continues to affect her family, especially his parents and four younger brothers.

“We always remember him and for his family in particular, it’s such a huge, huge loss,” she said.

“We come together for special occasions throughout the year – the big moments, the hard moments, the brilliant moments. We’re always thinking about them. It’s so hard and it doesn’t really get easier for them.”

The Limerick native is an ambassador for Pieta House and has helped launch their most recent campaign, #HopeOverSilence, which is encouraging people to speak up about their own mental health and/or open up about the loss of a loved one.

You can support this initiative by placing a candle in your window to represent hope this Thursday, November 24 at 7pm.

Instead of a moment’s silence, call a friend, talk to a family member or housemate, or join in the social #HopeOverSilence conversation to help us all feel connected this Christmas.

The charity expects that 324 people will contact its Crisis helpline on Christmas Day this year.

“I think this time of year is so magical and amazing and everyone is so excited but there’s also the other side of people feeling very lonely, especially if they’ve suffered a bereavement or if they’re feeling isolated or stressed,” Louise explained.

“I just wanted to highlight that people do feel this way and we need to look out for each other and people who are struggling.

“Hundreds of people contacted Pieta on Christmas Day last year, which just shows it’s something that’s really needed and something that people that people go through.”

She continued: “I have this platform and I want to be able to use it for good. At the same time, I’m learning.

“I’ve always been open to mental health but there’s so much in dealing with somebody who’s struggling and it’s hard to know what to do. I think the best way to know what to do is by educating yourself and sharing those messages.”

Louise shared how she looks after her own mental health during the jam-packed festive season.

“It’s such a busy time of year so I have to keep my self-care routine active. It can be hard to find the time but for me, it’s about having boundaries and making sure I doing things for myself that I need to do whether it’s going out for a walk or writing in my journal or talking to someone if there’s something up.

“It’s something I try to keep up all year round but when everyone gets really busy and diaries get hectic, those sort of things tend to fall to the wayside.

“Because I’ve been aware of my own mental health for years, I kind of know when I need to stop and take stock or check in with myself but it’s something I actively have to do. Just taking time to look after yourself, really.

"Even just saying to someone: ‘I feel very overwhelmed this week’. I do it to my friends and they do it back to me. That’s what friends are there for.

“I know sometimes people can feel like a burden for sharing but if anything, it just opens the conversation up and lets you know that someone is there for you,” she added.

Pieta’s services are free of charge and can be accessed at www.pieta.ie.

You can call the National Therapy Services phoneline on 0818 111 126 to find out more about starting your therapy journey or get more information on Pieta’s therapy services.

Pieta provides 24/7 support – if you are suicidal, self-harming or bereaved you can contact Pieta 24/7 via the Freephone crisis helpline on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply).

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