Mother of Belfast teen who took own life urges others to seek help
The grieving mother of a west Belfast teenager who took his own life has urged people to open up about their mental health after a spate of suicides.
Aspiring personal trainer Robert 'Robbie' Mateer (19) was found dead at home on Monday, just four months after he lost a close friend to suicide.
It is the fourth suicide in Belfast in 10 days, according to suicide and self-harm charity PIPS.
The former St Colm's High School pupil's heartbroken mum Colette paid emotional tribute to her "bubbly" and "caring" son, who never shied away from helping others in distress.
"I'm just numb," she said. "He always had a smile on his face - a gorgeous smile."
Mrs Mateer said Robbie, who previously played football for Celtic Boys FC, had helped many struggling young people.
"His friend Decky, who he was very close to, died a few months ago and I saw him put a post up about him," she told the Andersontown News. "He would even help strangers on Facebook. When his friends were struggling he would have went out in the car and grabbed them and took them a spin and talked to them and made sure they were OK."
His pal Declan Cavanagh (19) was found dead at his west Belfast home in April.
Robbie uploaded a Facebook post urging people to check up on their friends because "you never know who is suffering in silence" shortly before he died.
Mrs Mateer said there is also a need for more mental health services for young people.
"It's too late for Robert, but something needs to be put in place," she said.
The distraught mum also encouraged young people to open up about their problems.
"If you can't open up to your family, there is always someone to speak to," Mrs Mateer said. "It is nothing to be ashamed of.
"There is always a way out, and I know it might not feel like it at the time, but there is always somebody out there who cares - our Robert cared for strangers he didn't even know."
Robbie's heartbroken sister Shauna also paid tribute to her brother, who she had spent time with on Sunday night.
"It's a shame he didn't open up," she said. "I picked him up and dropped him home that night - I took him to the garage and we talked and I said to him, Are you all right brother?'
"He just said, 'I'm all right sis - I'm all good'."
The mum-of-two said the impact of the Oasis fan's death has been felt beyond Belfast as she described how the band's former frontman and her brother's idol Liam Gallagher sent condolences to Robbie's Instagram account.
"He was loved by everyone," she added.
The teenager's devastated dad Robert paid tribute to his son, who was passionate about sport and fitness. "He was a sporty, happy person and he was always smiling, he said. "It just came out of the blue - we had no indication. His smile hid it well."
Celtic Boys FC hailed its former player as a "natural special talent" who once represented the league select team at U-14 in the Costa Blanca International tournament in Spain.
A spokesperson said "the all-round great kid" always had time for younger players and often turned out to support them.
"This is our collective loss, the world has lost a true gentleman," they added.
- If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any issues in this article, please contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000