Belfast Telegraph

Mum of tragic Christian Grey believes mental health issues prompted by death of brother

Christian with his father Davy, sister Angie and mother Joanne
Christian with his father Davy, sister Angie and mother Joanne
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The mother of a Co Antrim former barman who took his own life on Monday believes her son would still be alive if his younger brother had not died from an accidental drug overdose in 2015.

Christian Grey (29) from Ballymena passed away just hours after posting a heartbreaking description of his mental health battle on Facebook, which has since been shared on social media almost 500 times.

The former Ballymena Academy and Cambridge House Grammar School pupil would have turned 30 yesterday.

Mr Grey is survived by his mother Joanne Murphy, his father Davy Crawford, two sisters, two brothers and the wider family circle.

Christian with grandmother Pamela Rankin
Christian with grandmother Pamela Rankin

His funeral will take place at Alan Francey Funeral and Memorial Services in Ballymena at 11am tomorrow.

In 2012 he changed his name via deed poll from Gary Crawford to Christian Grey - the main character in the best-selling Fifty Shades Of Grey books and movies.

His mother said yesterday that her son was popular "no matter where he went".

In the early hours of Tuesday morning Mr Grey's grandmother Pamela Rankin posted on Facebook that he had gone missing from the Tobernaveen mental health centre in Antrim.

Tragically, the PSNI informed his mother that he had been found dead in the Steeple Road area of Antrim at around 4am.

She had to travel from Ballymena to identify her son's body.

"Over the last 12 months his mental health difficulties were really bad because he put a lot of weight on with his medication," Ms Murphy said.

"Then he was told he had to get ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] treatment, and that terrified him.

"The night that he died, it was a really cold night and the doctor asked where he was going and he said that he was going to see his friend.

Christian with his brother Jordan and sister Angie
Christian with his brother Jordan and sister Angie

"It was about four o'clock in the morning that the police told me that he killed himself."

In his final Facebook post, Mr Grey said losing his 19-year-old brother Ryan was the hardest thing he ever had to deal with.

He wrote that he took comfort in knowing that he would be reunited with Ryan and hoped his family and loved ones, who have been left devastated by his death, would take solace in that too. Looking back at Ryan's passing, Ms Murphy said his big brother had taken care of all the funeral arrangements but never got over the tragic loss.

"A year after Ryan died he took a nervous breakdown and that's when the mental health problems all started," she continued.

"He went into hospital and was on medication. He couldn't cope. I believe that if that didn't happen to Ryan then Gary would be here today.

"Ryan phoned Gary the night before he died and Gary missed the call so that played on his mind, but nobody could have helped him because he didn't do it deliberately."

Describing her son as a "people person", Ms Murphy added: "He was always the one cheering everyone up, he was looking after everybody and he was so good with people."

Mr Grey had previously worked in the Galgorm Resort, where he was nominated for the Northern Ireland Bartender of the Year award in 2014. At the time of his award nomination he said his dream was of owning his own bar and restaurant one day.

"I think anyone with ambition would like to do that, but I'm not in any rush," he said.

"I'm only in my early 20s and who knows what the future might hold for me here."

He added: "I think it's a great career. I certainly don't want to work anywhere else."

The management and staff at Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort said on Tuesday that they were saddened by the news of Mr Grey's death and will "keep fond memories of him".

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. You will receive immediate support on the phone and follow up support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at

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