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Mum of Derry man Jack Glenn, who took his own life, slams return of £300k suicide project funding

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Hester Glenn

Hester Glenn

Hester's son Jack, who took his own life

Hester's son Jack, who took his own life

Hester Glenn

The mother of a young man who took his own life in Londonderry three years ago this week has described the return of £300,000 in unused funding to Stormont that had been earmarked for suicide prevention projects in the city as "disgusting".

Hester Glenn, whose son Jack (23) died on February 2, 2017 and whose family endured a gruelling 52-day wait until his body was recovered from the River Foyle, said the loss of the money that should have gone towards preventing other suicides was completely unacceptable.

The Department of Health returned the £300,000 set aside for a "Foyle Suicide Project" to the Department of Finance.

It has since been absorbed into a pot of Stormont underspends and was reallocated to departments in the January Monitoring Round.

Ms Glenn said: "So many people in the Foyle area are affected by suicide and every single one of them will be devastated to know that £300,000 that could and should have gone towards preventing suicide wasn't used.

"It is disgusting, there is no other way to describe it.

"It is three years this week since we lost our precious Jack and the pain never goes away.

"I miss him so much. At times I still cannot believe he is gone and it is something I would never want another family to go through, which is why the return of this money makes me so angry."

She added: "I talk to people so often who tell me they are trying to get help for their son or daughter or someone they love but all they hear is there's a waiting list or there are no available beds. It is completely unacceptable that money which would have gone a long way to paying counsellors or medical staff so there would be more beds has been lost."

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has written to the Department of Health asking for details about the "Foyle Suicide Project" and why the money was returned to the Executive's coffers.

He said it was "mind-boggling" that such a sum was not spent and pointed to a pilot crisis intervention service operating in Derry that may close next month if funding to sustain it isn't forthcoming.

The service run by Extern operates in Derry city centre from Thursday evening to Monday morning as a safety net for people feeling vulnerable.

Mr Durkan added: "It is mind-boggling that £300,000 went unspent when you consider the number of groups who work in the field of suicide prevention that are struggling badly because there is such a demand for their services and they are under resourced. There are question marks over the future of the Crisis Intervention Service in Derry, whose funding hasn't been finalised beyond March, and yet we now know £300,000 for a Foyle suicide project wasn't used.

"I have written to the Department of Health about this and I have asked the Finance Minister in the Assembly for assurances that any future bid for money for projects in Foyle would be viewed favourably."

A Department of Finance spokesman explained the money had been allocated under the Programme for Government transformation fund.

They added: "The Department of Health was unable to use the funding for the purpose it was allocated for and it was therefore returned to the Executive for reallocation against its wider priorities."

The Department of Health had yet to respond to a request for comment.

Belfast Telegraph