By Donal Hickey
Friday, August 27, 2010
A KERRY youth support group has contacted Donegal services to learn from their experiences in coping with the aftermath of fatal car crashes.
Staff at the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service (KDYS) who had been on annual leave have returned to work to assist young people and grieving friends of the four crash victims in the last two days. They have contacted their counterparts in Donegal to use their experiences in coping with the horrific Inishowen tragedy, which claimed eight lives.
The crash on Wednesday morning on the Killarney to Mallow road claimed the lives of two brothers David, 17, and Kevin Breen, 15; Brian Coffey, 19; and Áine Riordan, 16.
A drop-in centre at the KDYS headquarters in Killarney stayed open until 9 o’clock last night and will be open until 10pm tonight.
The teenagers who died had all taken part in Youthreach programmes provided by the service. Staff have been contacting other young people on the programmes who would have known the deceased to check if they need help in coping with the tragedy.
Additional counselling services are also being made available at the South West Counselling Centre in Killarney.
Gemma O’Brien, human resources manager at KDYS, said young people shocked by the tragic deaths of their friends and peers needed a place in which to be with their friends and somewhere to talk to people.
“They need a safe space where they can express their feelings. We’re putting support systems in place that will help them not only through these days when funerals are taking place, but also in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.
A youth worker has also been assigned to the Ballyspillane estate in Killarney, home of brothers David and Kevin Breen, who died in the crash, and to Castleisland, home town of Áine Riordan, who also lost her life.
Ms O’Brien also said much more needed to be done to educate young people about road safety. She called for a combined approach, with particular emphasis on the education of young drivers, involving gardaí, schools, local authorities and youth services.
Meanwhile, there has been a huge response to a 24-hour helpline set up in Inishowen, following the Donegal crash. Information leaflets were distributed and drop-in centres were provided for young people in the area.
The blog, Unwind Your Mind, which offers practical tips to young people, has received thousands of hits from teenagers following the death of a friend.