Belfast Telegraph

Politicians must get back to work and help tackle suicide epidemic, mum pleads year after son's death

By Donna Deeney

The heartbroken mother of a young man who took his own life a year ago has called on MLAs to set aside their differences and address the high rate of suicide before any more families are left bereft.

Jack Glenn (23) entered the River Foyle on February 2 last year.

Yesterday, one year on, his anniversary was marked by a prayer service conducted by First Derry Presbyterian Minister Rev David Latimer.

Rev Latimer prayed with the family, who were joined by people who helped in the eight-week search of the Foyle before Jack's body was recovered.

He also offered prayers for the family of Waterside man Michael McGinley (27), who disappeared from his home two weeks ago.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Jack's mother Hester said only the families of people such as Mr McGinley or Michael Cullen, whose body was recovered from Belfast's Cavehill this week, can understand the unceasing pain of waiting for a lost loved one to be found.

Mrs Glenn said: "Since Jack took his own life my whole outlook on life has changed completely.

"This is something that affects all walks of life - young, old, every class and creed has been touched by this.

"We left flowers down at the water's edge after the prayer service and that's when it really hit me that this time last year we began an eight-week search for Jack.

"So many times I stood looking into the river and wondered: 'Are we ever going to find this wee man?'

"But we got him laid to rest after the eight weeks.

"I know exactly what the families of all the other people who have been in our position, who know what it is like to walk in our shoes, are going through and it is horrendous.

"When I hear of another family who are searching for their loved one I no longer just say 'God help that family', and then go on about my business.

"Now I try and contact the family and tell them if I can help in any way, I will."

Mrs Glenn does not feel ready to take part in searches of the banks of the Foyle for missing people, but Jack's sister Katie joined River Mourne Search and Rescue after his death and now helps with the operations.

She added: "Katie feels the loss of her brother so much.

"She is an only child now, whereas she once was a wee sister to Jack, and she misses him every day."

People from across Northern Ireland and from both traditions came together to help the family search for Jack - something that still resonates with Mrs Glenn.

She added: "Suicide and mental health issues needs to be addressed, because too many people are dying.

"It is like an epidemic, but one thing that struck me during the search for Jack was how it didn't matter if someone was Catholic or Protestant.

"People came to us because they cared. Jack touched the hearts of everybody and I would like that to be his legacy.

"Rev Latimer remarked on that at the prayer service, when he said Jack united the two communities in a way the politicians can't.

"I am not in any way political, but it is very frustrating to see the petty things that are keeping politicians from getting back to work, things that don't matter compared to people dying by suicide and struggling with their mental health.

"People have talked to me about a centre of some kind for people in crisis to be opened in Jack's name, and I would be fully behind that.

"It would be a wonderful legacy to Jack but it would need funding, and for that we need the politicans to work together."

Belfast Telegraph

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