Bereaved families take action to tackle suicide

Three Co Leitrim families devastated by the suicide of loved ones have been moved to organise a two-day seminar on the suicide issue in their home village next month.

Three Co Leitrim families devastated by the suicide of loved ones have been moved to organise a two-day seminar on the suicide issue in their home village next month.

The McTernan, Fallon and Kerins families have established a committee, STOP (Suicide: Teach, Organise, Prevent) to explore ways of reaching out to depressed people so that those in need can get help.

Just over a year ago, John and Mary McTernan of Dromahair lost their son Gary, 24, after he hung himself in the family garage.

The happy-go-lucky factory worker had said good night to his parents the previous night without any warning of what was to follow.

In the same village three years previously, Sean and Carmel Fallon buried their son Kevin, 26, after he ended his own life while the nearby Kerins family lost Pat, 27 in May 2001.

Mary McTernan, a former psychiatric nurse, believes that each of the 10,000 attempted suicide cases every year should be assigned adequate psychiatric assessment.

“Parents are often so close to their children that they don’t see the warning signs. They’re not really aware of what they’re looking for.”

“I believe now that Gary was depressed and if only he had got treatment he may be alive today.”

“He left a note saying that he loved us and not to be annoyed. He asked us to pray for him and talk to him now and again.”

Mary believes that the Government’s priorities are misplaced when it comes to “Irelands secret tragedy” of suicide.

She said: “Suicide kills more young people than road traffic accidents, yet the Government spends millions on high-profile road safety campaigns and ignores our young men and women who may someday kill themselves.”

“Suicide is still the social stigma it always was even after it was decriminalised. A Government-funded public awareness campaign could educate people on the issue and not leave so many bereaved families asking the agonising question ’what if’?

The conference on February 18-19 will be opened by RTÉ’s Northern Editor Tommie Gorman who has local connections in Dromahair and will be addressed by 2FM presenter Gareth O’Callaghan who has suffered from depression.

Suicide bereavement counsellors, researchers and psychiatrists will also speak over the two days in the Abbey Manor Hotel.

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