An Irish rapper has taken an alternative way to highlighting the stigma of depression in Ireland.
Thirty-one-year-old Portlaoise rapper Wally O’Loughlin staged his own funeral to raise awareness of suicide.
O’Loughlin admits he was on the verge of taking his own life four years ago, but he battled with the disease and is now a proud dad of toddler Kieran.
“The day after Michael Jackson died in 2009, I had a suicide attempt,” he told the Irish Sun.
“At the time, I was going through depression. Then one day, I had an argument with my brother and it just all came to a head.
“I left the house and went to a nearby graveyard with a razor blade and attempted to slit my wrist.
“Just when the blade touched my skin, I looked up and saw a mother and daughter leaving the graveyard and said to myself, ‘What am I doing?’ So I put the blade down, walked into the local Garda station and asked for help.”
Reformed drink and drugs addict Wally decided to stage his own funeral to highlight the problem of depression in Ireland.
He got permission from his local church to stage his own funeral in 2009.
“I was laid out in the coffin and got my family and friends to stand around it.
“It was to highlight the stigma surrounding depression. When I actually saw what could have happened it really hit home to me.
“For years, I denied how I was feeling. As a rapper, I had an image to keep up. People don’t take depression seriously.
“When I finally approached a doctor and told him I was depressed, he said, ‘Don’t be stupid, what would you have to be depressed about?’
“Now I know I have depression, but I’ve learned to manage it.”
Wally continued: “One moment can change anyone’s life. If I had followed through on that day and cut the horizontal line on my wrist I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“The message I want to get out is that there is help out there.
“Becoming a dad stopped me self-prioritising for once. I put my son Kieran first now, he needs a role model.”
Wally’s mission has hit headlines since he began travelling to schools around the country with radio DJ turned film-maker Ann Marie Kelly. Their mental health project is called Hear Me See Me and at the end of each school session, they show the short documentary of Wally’s life, Wally.
Wally will be aired on RTE One tonight at 10:35.