Connect Mental Health Week

“90% of deaths on Everest are on the descent”

An Olympic boxer has told a conference in Donegal how depression can destroy the life of even the fittest athlete.

Sue Doherty


Sue Doherty


“90% of deaths on Everest are on the descent”

Olympic boxer Kenny Egan speaking about his battle with depression and alcoholism at the conference in Ballyshannon

Kenny Egan, who won silver in Beijing in 2012, was speaking at the InspireHope conference at the Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon on Saturday.

The conference opened Donegal’s 2nd Connect Mental Health Week, which offers a range of events built around World Mental Health Day, which is today, October 10.

Kenny spoke of the despair that set in at the very moment he realised he’d achieved his life’s goal. “When the bell rang after 4th round in the final in Beijing, I knew I was losing.

"Instead of thinking ‘Great, I’ve won a silver medal at the Olympics’, I dropped to my knees and I said to myself, ‘What the f*** do I do now?’”

“Representing Ireland at the Olympics was my carrot since I was eight. I saw Michael Carruther’s homecoming and put on my first pair of gloves.

"Now, I was 26 years of age and had no idea what to do next. I’d never been told to get an education or plan for life after the Olympics.”

Kenny then pointed to a slide of Mount Everest. “Did you know that 90% of the deaths on Everest are on the descent?”, he asked.

Within two years, Kenny realised that he’d become a full-blown alcoholic and he joined AA.

“I've been in the ring 200 times but this is the real battle and it goes on everyday,” he said. “I’m sober six years now and that, for me, beats any Olympic medal.”

For more information on the programme for Connect Mental Health Week or how to access supports, visit or follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

See this Thursday's Donegal Democrat for full coverage and photos.