Brave young Kildare woman raises money for suicide prevention after loss of brother and boyfriend

Leinster Leader reporter


Leinster Leader reporter


Aoife Byrne

Aoife Byrne

Aoife Byrne from Leixlip and her friend Dearbhla Byrne from Celbridge are two young Kildare women raising funds for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland by undertaking a 100km cycle in August. 

Sadly, both of the friends have lost immediate family members to suicide in recent years and have had to help each other through the grief.

They are telling their stories to put faces to the statistics behind suicide in Ireland and hope that the funds raised will help other families in this terrible position.

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Aoife lost her brother and boyfriend to suicide.

This is Aoife's story: 

"One night in February 2015, I was waiting up for my older brother Thomas to come home. He was your typical older brother, bit of a bully to be honest, he knocked out one of my front teeth on the way home from school by accident, and chased me the whole way home as I was bawling my eyes out trying to convince me not to tell our parents. He refused point blank to let me win at Mario Kart. He would shut off the game if I tried.
But, he was also loving, and gentle, and hilarious, and I would spend hours watching him play video games just for his narrations.

"On that particular night, I was watching Ted, which is rated 15. I was three months away from turning 15, but I knew as soon as Thomas got back home, he’d be giving out to me for watching an inappropriate movie. So I waited and waited for him to come home and give out. But he didn’t. And, four days later, I had to watch as my cousins carried him into my house in a coffin.

"So, whilst my brother was still legally classified as a child, my family, his friends and all the other people he had touched in his short life, had to see him being buried. And that’s a specific type of heartbreak that I really can’t begin to describe. That my brother was not allowed to make the decision to vote, yet he made a decision to end his own life.

"Skip forward four years nearly to the date, and in February 2019, I met possible the most beautiful soul on the face of the earth, my recent boyfriend Karl. I loved him, and I wish I could be more poetic, but it’s as simple as that, I loved him very deeply. He would light up my life in a million different ways, every single day. He would always wake up extremely early, and I’d wake up to a text every single morning. I worked in a Gaeltacht camp last year where I didn’t have a phone, and he sent me letters, nearly every day. He was the sweetest boy you could ever imagine; he loved his family more than I have ever seen in a young man. 

"Every time I went to see him, he’d open the door with the biggest smile you would have ever seen in your life. He got me through my Leaving Cert, he got me through funerals and anniversaries, he was always there for me. And I will never be able to fully describe how sweet and gentle and hilarious this boy was.

"Karl died in January this year, and I’m still in shock. I miss him every day, and I see him in everything I do. And it breaks my heart that he doesn’t get to live the rest of his life, because he was amazing, and he would have had the most beautiful life, and would have brought joy to so many people, I know that."