Former Irish rugby player Mike Ross appeared on the Late Late Show last night and was incredibly open about the devastation that befell him and his family when they lost his 16-year-old brother to suicide.
Ross was a staple of the Irish scrum during his playing career. Since then, he has progressed to coaching as the domestic rugby hierarchy seek to utilise his renowned expertise. However, away from rugby Ross is an ambassador for Anam Cara, the support group for bereaved parents and last night opened up on the desperate tragedy that occurred during his teenage years. In 1997, his 16-year-old brother died by suicide at their family home. Ross was 17.
That morning, Andrew did not want to go to school. He said he did not have his homework done. We argued with him for a bit, but then we were going to miss the bus. Eventually, we missed the bus and Andrew stayed home and my Mom dropped us all into school in St. Colmans in Fermoy. It was run by priests at the time.
That was alright, then my Mom got home and she found that while she was gone, Andrew had shot himself. The first thing we knew about it was when the priests called us all into a room and told us that we had to go home, there had been a terrible accident.
Three months ago, Mike Ross received the note that his brother had left. It provided some much-needed clarity and understanding as to 'the impulse' that led to the tragedy. He admitted many who watched his career would not know his story but said now is the right time to share.
I think if people hear the story it might help someone who is contemplating that. I remember reading about this programme they have for gay youth in America called 'it gets better.' I think that is a powerful message. Whatever you are going through right now, whatever is happening, things will get better. Where you are at right now, is not the be all and end all of your life.