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Last picture of Belfast man Jamie Burns just hours before he died after taking ecstasy

'Jamie wasn’t a drug user but he made a stupid mistake... if he knew the suffering of those left behind we know he wouldn't have done this'

By Rebecca Black

Published 22/11/2016

Jamie Burns at Mandela Hall in Queen’s Students’ Union on Saturday
Jamie Burns at Mandela Hall in Queen’s Students’ Union on Saturday

The heartbroken father of a young man who died after collapsing suddenly in the early hours of Sunday morning has spoken out about the dangers of drugs.

Jamie Burns from the Shore Road area of north Belfast had been socialising at the Queen's University Student Union when he fell ill and died.

The PSNI has launched an investigation into his death and a post-mortem is set to be carried out.

His father William believes his son had taken a tablet before his collapse, and took to social media in his grief to warn other parents to make sure their kids are never tempted by drugs.

"I lost my only son, 23 years of age, went out Saturday night with friends and stupidly took a tablet - he never came home," he said.

"Please, please, please, make sure your kids, teenagers, young adults aren't tempted, no parent should have to go through this."

He posted on to his Facebook page on Sunday: "You never think in your entire life that as a parent you would ever go through this. Today my life has ended, my son, my best friend died this morning."

A spokeswoman for Queen's University said: "This is a police matter, we will assist the PSNI in their investigations."

The PSNI has launched an investigation into the sudden death. Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said a post-mortem will take place to determine the cause of death.

"Police in Belfast are investigating the sudden death of a 23-year-old man who collapsed at an address on the University Road during the early hours of Sunday, November 20, 2016," he said.

"The male was brought to hospital by ambulance for medical treatment, but died a short time later.

"A post mortem will take place in due course to determine the cause of death. There are no further details at present."

Jamie was a student at the Northern Regional College in Newtownabbey.

A service is planned to take place at the family home on Friday morning, before a funeral service at Roselawn Crematorium.

A fundraising effort set up to help his family with funeral costs has already raised more than £1,300 of the £2,000 goal.

On the crowdfunding website Just Giving, the family wrote of their shock and pain.

"On the early hours of Sunday morning, we as a family got the tragic news of our 23-year-old son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend, was in serious trouble," they wrote. "On a regular night out in Belfast with friends he took what seems to be the absolute current 'norm', and now we are left with the deepest pain and heartache a family could ever imagine. This came without any warning at all and is a huge shock. We are completely numb. He was the most kind hearted and genuine boy you could meet. It only takes one time taking drugs on a night out in a club, but it leaves behind a gaping hole for the rest of the family's lives.

"This is the side young people don't think about when experimenting in this madness."

The family also revealed their worry about being able to pay for Jamie's funeral.

"As a self-employed family, meaning money only comes in if you're out working to get it, and obviously this is completely impossible for the immediate family at this time, I have set up this crowdfunding page," they wrote.

"This is simply if you wish to donate any money at all no matter how little, it will go towards the funeral costs at this devastating time.

"We have received a lot of support and kind words on social media and through visits up to now all of which is so greatly appreciated, but the reality is this is also an expensive time which has landed so unexpectedly out of nowhere."

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