Sister of Belfast football coach Gary Laverty sends a message of hope to others deep in despair
The grieving sister of an east Belfast football coach who died suddenly has urged those in distress to remember that "you are always loved by someone, even if your head's telling you different".
Married father-of-two Gary Laverty (36) died on Sunday.
Paying tribute to her older brother on social media, his grieving sister Chelsea Scott wrote: "Suicide isn't selfish, suicide is real.
"But please remember, you are always loved by someone, even if your head's telling you different."
East Belfast PUP councillor John Kyle said the community had been left reeling following Mr Laverty's untimely passing.
"Gary was a lovely guy who came from a very large and well respected family who are rooted in the Bloomfield area of east Belfast," he said.
"His parents and many of his siblings have been very active in various local community organisations for decades.
"The community is deeply saddened over what has happened to someone who was so well known and liked."
Mr Kyle also urged those who are suffering in silence not to be afraid to seek help.
"Suicide is never the option and there is always help available and hope. There are a number of organisations out there who have expertise and skills to help people who find themselves in a position where they feel that life is not worth living.
"Talking to someone can make all the difference and I would urge people to do so."
Mr Laverty was a former coach and player at East Belfast FC where he was remembered as "a gentleman and a hero who helped so many people".
A club spokesman said yesterday: "Gary was friendly, selfless and was an integral part of the dressing room, always bringing a smile to the faces of both the players and the staff.
"He gave up his Tuesday and Thursday nights to coach East Belfast Seconds for the 2018-2019 season and helped the team win Division 3B and the Walter Moore Cup. He even played a handful of matches and scored a memorable goal or two. It is with great sadness the football club mourns his passing.
"Our sympathies are with his wife and two children along with his relatives, and everyone else who is affected by his death. East Belfast FC mourns the loss of a good coach, a good friend and a good man."
Mr Laverty is also mourned by the Welcome Organisation, where he worked. A spokesman said yesterday: "Everyone in the Welcome Organisation is devastated by the sudden death of our colleague Gary Laverty and extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to his family.
"Gary was a much loved and highly respected member of our Street Outreach team. His passion for helping the most vulnerable in our society made a long and lasting impact on so many."
He is survived by his wife Lesley and two young sons, parents Raymond and Patsy, brothers, sisters and wider family circle.
His funeral is on Friday at 12.30pm in Willowfield Parish Church, followed by burial at Roselawn at 2pm.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, please contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000.