Local men undertake ‘Beauty to Beast’ fundraiser to raise awareness of suicide

Two Tarmonbarry men are currently undertaking a fundraiser in a bid to raise support and awareness for those bereaved by suicide in our community.

The fundraiser ‘Beauty to Beast’ will see Eddie Coffey and Johnny Rhatigan have refrained from shaving or cutting their hair since December 31st, 2020 until World Suicide Awareness Day on September 10th. All funds raised will go to the Athlone and Midlands Samaritans.

The two men hope that by raising awareness it might just save one life and in turn save one family the trauma of life after suicide.

Eddie’s wife, Liz Coffey (nee Casey) is the youngest of six children to Ann and Liam Casey of Rathowen in Co. Westmeath.

32 years ago, Liz’s 15-year-old brother, Willie, sadly took his own life and the family was once again hit by tragedy when brother Paddy died by suicide in January 2020.

Liz hopes the fundraiser will help prevent another family from experiencing the same anguish.

“32 years ago last June, my 15-year-old brother took his own life tearing our family apart and sending us all into a new unknown horror we now called life,” she said.

“We did manage a lot of happy years and made happy memories, my wonderful mum and tried their best to make our lives happy. Unfortunately we were hit with the sudden loss of our dad in 2004 when he went to work one morning never to return, his poor heart had finally given up.

“But without any doubts our greatest family tragedy unfolded on Sunday, January 26th, 2020, when the news was broken to us that our second brother had also taken his life”.

The Casey family were left heartbroken by the loss of Paddy a man “who lit up the room” and was so dearly loved by his mother, sisters, wife and children as well as so many wonderful friends.

“Our fundraiser came about during a lockdown get together, when our friends Johnny Rhatigan and Patricia Lane, who had recently suffered a tragic loss themselves on January 2nd, 2020 when Patricia’s wonderful brother Frankie Lane from Derrahaun, Keenagh, sadly decided it was time to leave this world.

“We wanted to do something that would try and stop another family going through the horror of life after suicide. It was hard to come up with an idea that was Covid-friendly but with a bit of discussion we decided on the Beauty to Beast,” she added.

Liz and family think fondly of her two fallen brothers each day.

“My one wish is to get people talking about suicide, to help them understand that the darkness they are currently living in only temporary that there is help out there and that so many more people care about them that they will ever know, everything can be changed with a little help,” she said.

Liz and family hope that the Beauty to Beast fundraiser will raise much-needed funds for Samaritans and show those currently experiencing difficulty that “there is help available, that they are loved and life is worth living”.

You can follow Eddie’s and Johnny’s efforts ahead of World Suicide Awareness Day on Facebook at ‘Beauty to Beast’.