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Mum: Garath had a great life in Army, but it fell apart

By Allan Preston

Published 14/09/2016

Gareth Coulter and his proud mum Angela.
Gareth Coulter and his proud mum Angela.

The mother of a former soldier who took his own life after battling depression has said the loss will leave her "devastated for life".

Garath Coulter from Lisburn, a former member of the Royal Irish Regiment, was 24 when he died in his family home on January 12 last year.

The eldest of three brothers, he joined the Royal Irish Regiment in 2013 and was stationed in the Army Reserves in north Yorkshire for almost a year.

His mother Angela Coulter told an inquest yesterday at Belfast's Royal Courts of Justice that he was a "happy go lucky lad" and was the "heart of family life" along with his two brothers Aaron and Curtis.

In July 2014 Garath left the Army and moved to Liverpool with his girlfriend, who was attending university.

While at a house party he became involved in a fight with three other men and police charged him with assault.

Ms Coulter said the incident "had a negative impact on his life, he was worried sick he would do jail time" despite it being his first offence.

Shortly after that, Garath began sleeping rough in Liverpool shop doorways. His Lisburn GP explained he was struggling from anxiety and depression, as well as with debts of £20,000.

When he came home for Christmas in 2014, Ms Coulter said he was "feeling more down about his relationship with his girlfriend".

On January 12 his mother left him at home to go shopping. When she returned after 6pm she made the tragic discovery he had taken his own life upstairs.

"This has turned my life upside down. This will leave me devastated for life," she said.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Coroner Joe McCrisken said: "Far too many young people in Northern Ireland like Garath take their own lives every year and I think as a society we need to be more vigilant and take further steps to prevent these deaths."

Speaking afterwards, Ms Coulter remembered Garath's Army days: "He was really looking forward to that and was enjoying it up until a point and then it all fell apart.

"We just have to take one day at a time. Garath will never be forgotten, he'll always be in our hearts and forever in our memory."

She added her thanks to PSNI Constable Arthurs who was called to the scene on the day of Garath's death and "stood by us, thick and thin."

Curtis Coulter added: "I think it's vital that anyone who suffers from mental health or suicidal thoughts just step out boldly and take that help that's available."

He continued: "The best memory I have of Garath is around Christmas time. We walked to my grandfather's house and I just got a sense of who he was and had evolved into as an older brother. It's just amazing what he was getting up to in the Army and his life overseas and I'll just cherish those memories forever."

If you are affected by the issues in this article, contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline (080 8808 8000)

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