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'In darkness of Conor's loss, a local charity has been a lifesaver for us'

Deirdre Duffy from Armagh knows the pain of suicide all too well. Her 20-year-old son, Conor, took his own life two years ago on Mother's Day weekend. This is her story

Published 02/08/2016

Deirdre Duffy with her son Conor who took his own life
Deirdre Duffy with her son Conor who took his own life

Conor suffered from mental illness in his teens but he was adamant that he didn't want help from psychiatrists or counsellors, and I devoted my whole life to keeping him emotionally stable.

I was - and I still am - so proud of him.

He was gorgeous. He lived for the gym and he was proud of his body, but he was angry a lot of the time because he had Asperger syndrome.

However, he'd moved into a nice wee house of his own in the early part of 2014 but, at the end of March, my husband Anthony and I came home from a weekend in Donegal to join my daughter Aileen and her husband Mark who had just returned from their honeymoon.

We all got together to look at the wedding pictures but we couldn't get in touch with Conor and we were really worried.

We went to his house the next morning and we opened the front door and found his body. It was awful and that was the beginning of the end of our lives as we'd known them.

It was unbearable. The pain was like nothing I'd known before. I thought my head and heart were going to explode.

Somehow we got through the funeral but we weren't well.

However, we didn't know what to do or where to go for help.

And as the weeks passed we were still shattered.

One day, my husband went on to the internet to see if anyone could give us answers.

I was watching my family falling apart.

We were all broken.

Anthony found details about the Niamh Louise Foundation online and made an appointment to see the woman who set up the charity, Catherine McBennett, who had lost her daughter to suicide.

She spent over three hours talking with him and Anthony came home to say that he had found the place that we should go to.

In the two years since Conor died, we have found so much solace by going to meetings at the Foundation where there are so many people whose relations have also died by suicide.

In the midst of all the darkness, the people there have been our lifesavers.

Just to be able to talk about what happened and about our feelings has given us strength to carry on.

Everyone there knew exactly what we'd come through and they are still supporting us all the time.

We are all helping each other through these terrible crises in our lives.

The doctors and the statutory services have been a bit of a let down.

They try their best but, at the end of the day, they haven't had the experience of loss like people at the Foundation.

Suicide is such a waste of young lives. Something needs to be done.

Belfast Telegraph

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