Devastated mum of Scott Hayes says suicide must be 'cruellest way to lose somebody'
A heartbroken mother has spoken out about her young son's suicide because she wants people to be fully aware of the devastation caused to loved ones.
Angela Knott from Aghadowey said she would give anything to spend just a few more minutes with 27-year-old Scott Hayes, who died in a shooting tragedy on January 5, 2015.
Mrs Knott (57), who has contributed 15 poems to a book produced by the Northern Health Trust for bereaved families, added that she'll never get over his death, or the moment the police arrived with the terrible news.
"It was a horrible, horrible shock," she said.
"I didn't notice anything was wrong. There were no warning signs. Scott had seemed fine when he waved goodbye to me the night before he took his own life.
"The following day, I was at home alone making bread for him and his girlfriend Stephanie when there was a knock on the door. It was three police officers.
"When they told me what had happened it felt like I had been punched in the stomach. It was all the more terrible because we'd had such a good weekend together."
Mother-of-two Angela, a scientist, said Scott, who was "the baby of the family", had a good job, his own house in Castleroe, and was in a happy relationship with 24-year-old Stephanie, a trainee counsellor.
She also told how she and her second husband Charles (62), a retired army medic, had spent considerable time with him socially in the days leading up to his tragic and untimely death.
And, just hours before his death, Scott, who was a scientist like his brother Steven (31), had accompanied his mother as she drove Charles to Belfast International Airport to catch a flight to Edinburgh.
"He was texting Stephanie on the way to the airport and I was keeping him going, asking him whether I needed to buy a new hat for their wedding ... and he laughed and told me to not be getting carried away," she recalled.
"He told me he was going to see Stephanie on Tuesday night, and that her mother was going to make potato and leek soup, and I offered to make him a porridge bread loaf. When I left him at his house, he waved goodbye to me at the door at 10.10pm and I came home with no worries or fears about him.
"But after what happened, I felt as though I had failed Scott as a mother."
Mrs Knott has since pieced together what happened after she left Scott, a keen wildfowler.
"As it turns out, that evening he went into the house, went upstairs, had a shower, put the clothes he had been wearing into the washing machine, changed into his hunting gear, took his legally held firearm and then he drove to an isolated spot in the Aghadowey area," she said.
"He parked up at 11pm - we know this because there was a tracker in his work van. The last text he sent his girlfriend was just after 11.30pm and that's the last contact we know of. It just said: 'Goodnight, take care'."
Scott's body was found by work colleagues and identified by Mrs Knott's best friend. He was buried on January 9 in the family plot with his grandmother, Mary Jane McCartney (73), who died in 2011.
By way of dealing with her grief, Mrs Knott has contributed to 'Hope and Light in the Darkness', a poignant collection of stories, poetry and advice published by the Northern Trust's Bereaved by Suicide Service.
"People talk about car accidents, the Troubles and road deaths but you never hear much about suicide," she said.
"Scott and I were close. He left a suicide note saying he couldn't deal with the pain of loneliness anymore. He also said thanks to me and his grandfather for being so good to him. The police found the note in the van."
She added: "My last memory of Scott was him waving goodbye to me at the door. I'm thankful I didn't find his body."
Mrs Knott - who also lost what would have been her first grandchild in August this year after her other son, Steven's, daughter Evie was stillborn at 24 weeks - described suicide as a "very cruel way to lose someone".
"You have to try and piece together a jigsaw of what happened," she explained.
"I don't know what came over him that night. I don't know what snapped. We don't know why he went out and did it.
"The hardest thing of all for me is that he never told me something was wrong. It's a mother's guilt because you always feel you should protect your children.
"I feel like I've failed because I should have known."
Official figures show there were 318 suicides here in 2015.