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trauma recovery Singer Aaron J Hart tells how a pal's message saved him from suicide

Singer Aaron grateful for pals who saved him from suicide

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Aaron J Hart

Aaron J Hart

Aaron J Hart

IRISH singer-songwriter Aaron J Hart has told how a friend saved him from suicide after he sent him a message saying: "I love you."

The former Ireland's Got Talent contestant had struggled with mental health issues for years and was caught up in booze and drugs when he decided to end his life in 2017.

Now supporting Pieta House's 'Signs of Suicide' campaign, Aaron tells the Sunday World: "Back in 2017 I tried to take my own life. I was in a really, really dark place.

"If it wasn't for my friends, I wouldn't be here, to be honest. I went from being happy-go-lucky to just being in isolation in my head. I felt like a stranger in my own body, if that makes any sense. I just felt I wasn't me.

"I went down a very bad path. I got into drink and drugs. It's not a path I'd recommend anybody to take. I'm happy to be here today to help inspire someone to get out of that situation.

"I think I used drink and drugs to cover up mental health issues. I grew up in poverty.

"I was homeless a lot with my mum. It was just childhood trauma, I guess.

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Aaron J Hart and Sam Donnelly

Aaron J Hart and Sam Donnelly

Aaron J Hart and Sam Donnelly

"We lived between Ireland and the UK and were homeless in both countries, moving around from hostel to hostel and B&B to B&B, emergency accommodation…stuff like that."

Aaron tells how he was struggling to find a purpose in life when he decided to end his own.

"It just all happened at once," he says. "I don't even know where it came from. It was October 20, 2017, and I sent out a message to one of my friends that night. I just told him I loved him, and he obviously knew there was something wrong."

It was his friends who pulled Aaron back from the brink, and he says the incident led to him turning his life around.

"They were then trying to contact me, and they eventually found me. If they didn't find me that night, I wouldn't be here talking to yourself today," Aaron says.

"When I was in that moment something just clicked with me. I just felt that I needed to find my purpose.

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"We don't just live, we have to find why we're here, and get motivated by something. That's what I did."

Aaron says he educated himself on mental health through reading and listening to podcasts, and he used songwriting as an outlet for his personal struggles.

"I trained myself reading books and listening to podcasts also helped. I like to read motivational things, or entrepreneurship…stuff like that.

"I got into music and I became obsessed with writing lyrics that people can relate to. Being a man writing about those kind of things makes you vulnerable when you put it out on social media, but I never got any negative stuff. I think people respected what I'm doing."

The following year, Aaron made an impact on Ireland's Got Talent with his song, Show Pain, which went on to register 20 million views on social media.

Now working on an album, he says that his own brush with suicide has made him more empathetic to other people.

"Since that day I always look out now for people, asking people how they are doing and stuff like that. I'm trying to normalise the word, suicide.

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The Pieta House logo

The Pieta House logo

The Pieta House logo

"I'm trying to normalise you talking to your friend and being like, 'Last night I had some really bad thoughts. I felt like I didn't want to be here any more,' and normalise that conversation to a point where people can say it without feeling uncomfortable."

Aaron is relieved that his booze and drugs days are now in the past.

"I lost a lot of people, I lied to a lot of people, I hid from people," he says of those days. "But we learn from our mistakes. We're human, we can't be so hard on ourselves and live in the past. The past version of me is no longer there. I don't feel guilt any more. It's time to move on and make sure it never happens again, and inspire and help others."

Meanwhile, Pieta has also teamed up with Sam Donnelly of Sam's Barbers chain to highlight the role played by barbers in mental health.

"We have young lads come in here and they really do open up and talk to us," Sam says. "Sometimes they talk to us more than they talk to their friends or their girlfriends. I've been able to direct people in the right direction and they're the better for it today, so I know from experience that it works.

"I have used the services of Pieta House for people who confronted me with a cry for help, and the people who availed of the services thought they were absolutely fantastic."

If you or someone you know is struggling, contact Pieta's helpline on 1800 247 2474 or Text HELP to 51444. For more information go to pieta.ie

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