Bid to stop spate of teenage suicides

A MAJOR drive was launched yesterday to stop the spate of teenage suicides in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of the latest youth to die, 18-year-old Barney Cairns, who had been the victim of a campaign of terror, threats and punishment attacks by a gang of INLA men in the area.

Barney was the 13th to commit suicide this year and hanged himself from scaffolding at Holy Cross church just hours after attending the funeral of his best friend Anthony O'Neill who also killed himself after being attacked and constantly harassed and humiliated by the INLA.

Amid growing local fears that more youngsters will take their own lives, 2,000 leaflets were handed out at the funeral offering help and counselling to those contemplating suicide or self-harm.

Philip McTaggart, whose own teenage son killed himself last year said: "What we want is for young people to turn around and say: 'I need someone to talk to who will understand me'.

"They mightn't be able to talk to their parents or their parents might be able to direct them towards us.

"This help will be available 24/7 for the next week at least," he said.

Ardoyne parish priest Father Aidan Troy, who came to international prominence during the vicious loyalist protest at the Holy Cross girls' primary school, fears that more youngsters will die.

"There will be a number of people contactable at any hour should young people feel the need to speak to someone confidentially.

"And I want a clear statement from the INLA that they will stop this disgraceful activity immediately," he said.

Barney's mother Audrey O'Neill branded the people who had tormented her son as "scumbags". He had been the victim of an INLA "punishment" shooting last year and friends said that it had "messed up his head".

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.