Talk to someone if you're in difficulties, urges priest at funeral of tragic Aaron Laverty
Mourners at the funeral of a 15-year-old Downpatrick boy who took his own life last week have been told that he was "loved by all", and that "self-injury is a permanent solution to something which is perhaps temporary and superficial".
Downpatrick Alternative Education Provision (AEP) pupil Aaron Laverty, who has five siblings and would have turned 16 at the end of this month, died last Friday.
White wreathes bearing the words 'Bro' and 'Son' were in the hearse outside St Patrick's Church in the teenager's home town, where the funeral Mass took place.
A guard of honour of around 50 of Aaron's friends wearing baseball caps in tribute to his favourite fashion flanked the church entrance as the cortege entered and exited.
Aaron's coffin was carried into the church to the sound of Amazing Grace.
Father Liam Toland told mourners that Aaron had been "funny, bubbly and full of life".
He said: "He had this ability to go out, he always wanted to make people feel comfortable, to feel joy, to have a sense of humour with life, and in many ways he was a bit of a joker.
"He was always encouraging his friends if they felt a little bit ill at ease or a little bit down.
"He would always have greeted you with a cheeky smile, he was very caring and he looked out for everyone."
Fr Toland added that Aaron had "loved football," and had "got a name for himself as the 'Hat Trick Kid'."
Speaking on behalf of the teenager's family, he thanked the teachers at the AEP unit who had supported Aaron.
"In the AEP he was really beginning to blossom, to get his confidence, to look forward to going out to work," he said.
The priest said that Aaron had gone to the Belfast Learning Trade Centre, where he had shown an interest in and an ability for bricklaying, which had impressed his tutors.
"He did say to his mother, 'don't tell my Dad because he is a plasterer', and therefore he wasn't following in his footsteps," he added.
"His mother said that when Aaron goes to Heaven his grandfather will give him a clip around the ear before he embraces him in his love."
Mourners also heard that Aaron was "very helpful, kind and thoughtful, and loved by all".
"He was a little bit accident prone and he would make a joke out of everything," Fr Toland said.
"There was a moment last week when, for whatever reason, Aaron made a decision.
"His family loved him, his family were there for him, if they had any notion of what was going to happen they would have been round him protecting him and seeking help.
"The family love him. No one knows what was in Aaron's heart except God Himself.
"So we step back and leave Aaron in the presence of God, who is mercy."
Fr Toland reiterated the plea of Aaron's family that anyone in despair should seek help.
"The family would like to say that they wouldn't want the pain they are experiencing to be experienced by any other family," he said.
"Again, to the young people who are here, those words are great wisdom to take to your heart. No matter what it is, talk to someone. Self-injury is a permanent solution to something which is perhaps temporary and superficial.
"Sometimes a storm in a teacup can look like a tsunami - it's about getting that perspective.
"There is help there. Aaron was a very deep boy, a reflective boy, and I'm sure he did at times wonder what was best to do. He was very outgoing, very confident, very caring, but when it came to himself, a little confused."
Fr Toland said that while Aaron's loved ones would "learn to cope with life, it doesn't mean that life will ever be the same".
The coffin was carried out of the church to the song Jealous Of The Angels.
If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any issues in this article, contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000