Debra rises to the challenge

Debra McDonagh
Debra McDonagh

A LIMERICK mother and counsellor is gearing up to climb the five highest mountains in the British Isles to raise vital awareness and funds for a youth suicide prevention project.

Debra McDonagh has bravely signed up for a gruelling three-day mountain climb taking on the dizzying peaks of Carrauntoohil, Slieve Donard, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

The 46-year-old mother of two teenager daughters will get her hiking boots on next May in a bid to complete the Five Peaks Challenge.

The undertaking, in aid of HeadsUp — Rehab’s youth suicide prevention project, promises to be the adventure of a lifetime where both body and mind will be put to the ultimate endurance test.

“I like to walk and would walk most days, but I’m not super fit by any means. The cliff walk in Kilkee at weekends would be as tough as I’m used to. All I can do is my best and I’ll give it my all,” said Debra, cool as a cucumber.

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In a marathon combined 17,373-foot climbing effort, the Corbally woman will scale the highest peaks in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales over the course of the three day adventure. No mean feat!

“It’s a big challenge but it’s not the end of the world. It’s not a life and death situation. I’ve said I’ll do it and I will,” she declared.

Funds raised go to HeadsUp which was established in 2005 as a youth project to promote mental health among 15-24 year-olds, with the aim of reducing the number of suicides among young people in Ireland. It delivers a number of different programmes throughout the country including the HeadsUp Text service and interactive website, as well as parenting, life skills and suicide prevention training courses.

“I want to raise funds and awareness for HeadsUp and I’ll put my whole heart and soul into it. It’s a great cause,” said Ms McDonagh.

“Suicide is a very real issue among young people today. It’s more widespread than when I was young and teenagers are now looking at suicide as a real option. I think their minds can become clouded and a lot of them don’t realise that it’s permanent. Teenagers are also taking on each other’s problems and using facebook to talk about them. I would advise any teenager who is feeling suicidal to go speak to a responsible adult so they can get them help,” she concluded.

Debra, a counsellor for Hospital Youthreach, must now raise €1,875 in funds for Rehab to take part in the Five Peaks Challenge over the May bank holiday weekend. To donate log onto