Out of the darkness

Shane McKay (left) and with his uncle, John Lysaght.
Shane McKay (left) and with his uncle, John Lysaght.
Shane McKay (left) and with his uncle, John Lysaght.

AS Limerick prepares for this year’s ‘Darkness into Light’ event, a mother whose son has a second chance at life wants young people to understand the hurt suicide can cause.

THE mother of an 18-year-old Limerick boy who was clinically dead for seven minutes after attempting to taking his own life is urging the incoming Government not to cut €12 million in funding from mental health services.

On February 27 this year, Shane McKay was discovered just minutes after a suicide attempt. He was miraculously revived by family members and paramedics who worked on him for over 40 minutes at his home in Annacotty.

His mother Judy Lysaght, who was planning to go out for a walk at the time of the incident, changed her mind at the last moment when her maternal instincts told her something was wrong, and she went to check on Shane.

If she had not returned to check on her son, whom she describes as a “gentle and outgoing boy”, she is sure he would not have survived.

Tears well up in Judy’s eyes as she recounts the horrific moments after finding her eldest son lifeless in his bedroom.

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“I thought we had lost Shane forever. He had meant business and put a chair up against the inside of the door so we couldn’t get in. It was like a nightmare. He had no pulse and wasn’t breathing when we got to him. He was clinically dead for seven minutes,” Judy told the Limerick Post.

“It was very distressing for his younger brother and sister who were there when we found him. They are very upset and have needed counselling since seeing their brother lying there.

“It’s a miracle he is still with us. To see the pain Shane had to go through in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) as he fought for his life was like a knife through my body. He is still with us for a reason, I’m sure of that.

“Maybe in time he will be able to help others, but he is like a baby out of the womb again and has to relearn everything. It will be a long road to recovery,” she said.

On New Year’s Eve last, Shane was rescued from the River Shannon by passers-by after an earlier attempt to take his own life. He was discharged from hospital after 24 hours and prescribed Xanax, which his mother says was not the answer.

“Shane is very funny and would make everyone laugh when he got up to dance at a party. He is outgoing. He is also gentle and deep and is prone to bouts of depression and would sometimes say to me ‘mom, I feel useless’. The Xanax only made things worse, they do not get to the root of the problem that is making someone feel this way.”

Judy believes Shane will one day make a full recovery. His injuries are similar and yet far more profound than that of a stroke victim, but she is thankful that he is still alive.

She recently found a ‘to do list’ of Shane’s with plans for the future and it includes doing his driving test, applying for college and fixing his laptop.

His devoted mother, who has barely left his bedside since his suicide attempt, is now looking to try and make all his dreams a reality and is spearheading the ‘Shane’s Recovery’ fundraising campaign to help cover the costs of rehabilitation care. Details on how to donate are available through the Facebook page.

Ms Lysaght also feels that more funding is needed for mental health services.

Shane's uncle John Lysaght with his mother Judy Lysaght and Laura English.
Shane’s uncle John Lysaght with his mother Judy Lysaght and Laura English.

“A large percentage of the people arriving into A&E here in Limerick everyday are here because of mental health issues. They have no hope whatsoever and have nowhere else to turn. 

“I would love to see a rehabilitative drop-in centre set up in Limerick for people who are depressed and suicidal, where they can go to and talk to someone instead of seeing the river as their only option. There should be a place people can go late at night when they feel they have nowhere else to turn.

“I really hope that Shane’s story will imprint the reality of the aftermath and the hurt it can cause to themselves and to their family and friends. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t let it go untreated. Why treat mental health any different?”

Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan, who attended a ‘Shane’s Recovery’ fundraiser at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel last weekend, says lack of investment and poor delivery of mental health services are inextricably linked to the shocking level of suicide.

“Unfortunately, this is nowhere more apparent than here in Limerick. Suicide in Limerick can often be very public. The River Shannon has taken many lives. The regular sound of the search and rescue helicopter, hovering over the city, causes huge distress to many — not just to those affected directly, but I believe the entire community.

“Minister Varadkar’s plan to redirect €12 million of funding from mental health services is shameful and will no doubt have a huge negative impact,” he added.

by Alan Jacques



For details on how to donate to Shane’s Recovery visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/895866787191216/