Belfast Telegraph

Anguish at suicides of two young people from Northern Ireland

By Nevin Farrell and Cate McCurry

A distraught relative of a teenage suicide victim has made an emotional appeal for young people to speak out if they have problems.

Kevin Curley (31), an uncle of Declan Curley (17), made his plea as hundreds of young people, some in tears, gathered in a Belfast park for a candlelit vigil in memory of the teenager.

He died on Friday. Declan's father was at the vigil, but too overcome with grief to speak

Anti-suicide campaigners have revealed it was a bleak weekend for north Belfast, as a 21-year-old student, Cara Maguire from the New Lodge area, had also taken her own life. She died on Saturday.

She was studying Liberal Arts at St Mary's University College.

As Chinese lanterns in memory of Declan drifted off from the Deerpark area at a special ceremony at the nearby Bone Hills park last night, Mr Curley said he was "totally overwhelmed" at the show of sympathy and support from the community for his nephew.

Of Declan he said: "There was nothing to say (he was contemplating suicide), he was such a good lad. It is so difficult to realise that he is not here any more."

Mr Curley's message to anybody contemplating suicide was: "Speak to someone, think of the families, speak to their friends, their parents, their brothers, their sisters, and just realise that they are not on their own and the devastation that they leave behind."

He said Declan was well-liked and was training to be an electrician.

Mr Curley said: "He was an excellent kid, he was an inspiration, he had just started serving his time as an electrician with Ben Madigan Electrical.

"I'm an electrician as well and he was so happy-go-lucky, he was the loveliest kid ever, such a well-mannered, polite, loveable child. He loved all his gear, his clothes, and it is just so difficult to believe that he is not here. He had just bought his wee car, a Peugeot 206."

Philip McTaggart, who lost his son to suicide and now campaigns on the issue, said the turnout was impressive.

He said it showed that following the deaths of Declan and Cara there is hope that others could be prevented from taking their lives.

Mr McTaggart said: "It is important for us to get the message out to young people that it is very much about living life to the full and that they can live for the experiences they will have.

"There are going to be difficulties in life, but it is how they deal with them. There needs to be a multi-faceted approach and more needs to be done to really make an impact because people are dying all the time, yet you don't always hear about it."

Mr McTaggart urged the crowd to "smile" at passers-by, as he said for someone who is feeling down it "could save a life".

The vigil was told that since Declan's death, hundreds of mothers have been in touch with local groups in the hope of preventing further tragedy.

After prayers and a minute's applause for Declan, those present formed a ring around the dark park and clutched candles or turned on the lights of their mobile phones.

A minute's silence was also held. Declan Curley was a member of Ardoyne Youth Club. As news of his death became public, friends and family took to social media to leave their tributes.

A local residents' group paid tribute to the two young people. It said: "Rockmore Residents Collective wish to send their deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the young man and the young girl from north Belfast who died through tragic circumstances. May you both RIP."

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

Belfast Telegraph


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