Belfast Telegraph

Lack of counselling blasted as hunt for Andrew Quigley goes on

BY DONNA DEENEY

The family of Andrew Quigley (20), who has not been seen since Friday, has hit out at a lack of resources for people who are suicidal.

As the search in Londonderry enters its fourth day and hundreds of people continue to scour the banks as Foyle Search and Rescue (FS&R) patrols the river, Andrew's uncle Dermot Quigley called on politicians to overturn the decision not to fund a north west counselling centre for people with suicidal feelings.

Items belonging to Andrew, including a mobile phone, were found at the highest point of the Foyle Bridge early on Saturday morning, sparking the search.

Described as a "lovely young man, much loved by his family and many friends", Andrew did suffer from depression and suicidal feelings, exacerbated by the death of his father last year.

Despite his family's and Andrew's own attempts to get help, Dermot said the system had let down his nephew.

"Andrew was a much loved young man, but he had his own demons and the death of his father last year took its toll on him," he said.

"Like too many young people in this town he also used drugs trying to help him cope, but of course they did the opposite. Drugs in this town are so cheap and so easy to get, but the young ones taking them don't have the coping skills to deal with the massive highs followed by massive lows.

"We had tried to get Andrew help. His mother was desperate, in fact. For a while Andrew even asked his mother to report him because he was so desperate to get help, but the help isn't there and the whole system let him down."

Every inch of the banks of the Foyle is being searched by Andrew's friends and family while the Foyle Search and Rescue crews are using sonar equipment.

His uncle said it was only the overwhelming numbers who had offered to help that was sustaining his heartbroken family.

"The thing helping us cope right now is the incredible offers of help, but while we appreciate the efforts people are making we want to stress that people should not take risks with their own life trying to find Andrew," he said.

Mr Quigley said a protest he had already organised against the failure to fund the FS&R counselling service will still go ahead.

The charity had applied to the Government's Social Investment Fund, which has £10m for north west projects. A Derry steering group placed the FS&R application 10th on a list, where only the first three would be funded.

Mr Quigley said: "The north west is in dire need of this very type of facility, had it already been available we might not be searching for Andrew now."

Anyone affected by feelings of suicide can contact Lifeline on 080 8808 8000 who provide a free counselling helpline, or the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or locally on 028 7126 5511

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