Mother of suicide victim: ‘Do not be afraid to speak to someone’

The mother of tragic teenager Erin Gallagher has told how she found her 13-year-old daughter dead at their home — just hours after chatting and joking with her.

Mother of suicide victim: ‘Do not be afraid to speak to someone’

Lorraine Gallagher gave heartbreaking evidence of how she found her daughter at the family home in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on October 27, 2012.

Lorraine’s eldest daughter, Shannon, aged 15, took her own life just a few weeks later.

There were emotional scenes at the inquest yesterday, held at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny.

Ms Gallagher told how Erin and her son, Sean James, had visited her around 2pm at McElhinney’s department store in Ballybofey where she was working. Erin asked her mum if they could get broadband in their home and Lorraine said it would have to wait until the following Monday.

Lorraine said both Erin and Sean James were in good form and they left just after 3pm. When she returned home from work at 6pm, she found her home in darkness and her young son playing on the floor.

In her deposition, read out by Garda Superintendent David Kelly, Ms Gallagher said she initially asked Erin what she was doing before realising she was dead.

She tried to free her daughter but couldn’t and ran out into the street to alert neighbours.

Neighbours Kevin McGlinchey and Dan Deery gave evidence of how they found Erin and took her body down and tried to give both chest compressions and mouth to mouth.

Detective Garda Tom Ward, who also attended the scene on the night of Erin’s suicide, told the inquest how Erin’s phone had been recovered as part of the investigation.

It was discovered that she had joined the social media site on June 25, 2012, and a total of 258 messages had been posted on her account. A number of IP addresses were obtained from the account and several people were interviewed.

The findings of these interviews were passed on to the DPP but on June 14, 2014, the DPP decided that no prosecution would be brought against any person.

Detective Garda Ward also revealed how the DPP had made approaches to the Latvian authorities to make contact with, which did comply with the probe.

The DPP also put in a request to internet service providers but could not get some IP addresses as they had been deleted after 12 months.

Alan Thompson, now principal of Finn Valley College where Erin was a pupil, also gave evidence.

Mr Thompson gave a breakdown of various incidents in which Erin had been involved, including allegations that she was being bullied both online and at school.

He said that she had been “on the radar” since the beginning of the school year.

He said students were made aware of a code of behaviours and anti-bullying policies in the school. He said that since 2013, new national guidelines on bullying had been put in place which were being followed by the school.

Don Dwyer, child and adolescent psychologist with the mental health services of the HSE, confirmed that Erin had been in his care. He said Erin’s main complaint was that of bullying and also an alleged sexual assault which she claimed had taken place at the school the previous year.

Mr Dwyer also gave evidence that Erin’s GP, Dr Eileen Coyne, had informed him that Erin had previously tried to take her own life on September 21, 2012, in the school’s toilets.

She was due to attend Mr Dwyer again on November 1, 2012, but took her own life just days beforehand.

Patsy Gallagher, for the Gallagher family, said the inquest should remember that the person at the centre of the case was a child and urged young people to talk about their problems.

“Erin was a child who sadly passed away. Do not be afraid to speak to someone,” he said.

Coroner Denis McCauley returned a finding of death by suicide.

“This is a terrible tragedy, we can feel sorry but we cannot really understand the pain that this has caused,” he said.

It is understood that Erin’s sister Shannon’s inquest will take place later this year.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd