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Watch: Mum on a mission to make trolls pay after son driven to suicide


By David O'Dornan

There will be one fewer loved one for Christmas dinner in the Gregg household in Dundonald this year as they face the heartache of their first festive season since losing a son to suicide.

The one-year anniversary is looming of Kenny Gregg's death after he made the drastic decision to take his own life on January 3 this year, having been bullied by trolls online.

His tearful sister Carolyn (25) said: "He messaged me at 18 minutes past four in the morning telling me that he loved me. I woke up around six and read it.

"I knew he was out, so I just thought he was drunk and then I saw when I went on to Facebook he had posted two hearts on his Facebook page and in my head I sort of knew. He mustn't really have been feeling that good that night.

"And then when I got the phone call from Dad I didn't need the paramedic to stand there and tell me my brother was dead, because I already knew."

Kenny's mum Ann (55) is haunted by the memory of finding her loving son, who was a dad to two-year-old daughter Esme, on that fateful morning.

She said: "I found him lifeless in bed. I did do CPR on him for about 15 minutes. I seen his leg straightening and the colour coming back into his cheeks, smelled his breath, and in my head I was winning. I was pleading with God not to take him.

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Kenny and Carolyn Gregg

"His girlfriend phoned me at 10 to 10 and this is the guilt that I have and I'll always have to the day that I die. She said, 'Kenneth's wrote on Facebook to me at 20 past four in the morning, 'I love you and Esme with all my heart' and two hearts.'

"I never thought anything of it because I knew he'd had a drink. She woke up and she phoned me right away. My words to her, which I wish I could take back but I can't, were, 'I'm going to kill him when I go up and see him for doing that to you and waking you up with a wee baby.'

"And if I had have went up, he was still alive at this stage. They say roughly around half 10 he passed."

Kenny and Carolyn Gregg
Kenny and Carolyn Gregg

Last Christmas chef Kenny spoiled his parents and sister with gifts, but this year the family said they will struggle to cope with him not being here.

Ann said: "Men don't show their emotions. Look at my husband Kenneth. My husband's falling to pieces.

"The conversation with Kenneth last night was me telling him I don't want to do Christmas in the house. I don't want to have Christmas. I don't want to have New Year. I didn't even want to have my birthday this year, I just said no."

The family have launched a petition on Change.org called KG,27 - Kenny was 27 when he died - and have amassed more than 4,300 signatures so far, nearing a target of 5,000, but they want to see 10,000 sign up.

Ann said: "I want this petition passed. The trolls and the bullies, I want them to pay because to me they murdered my son. I want to stop trolls and bullies and make them be accountable on social media. He had threats made to him on social media as well. He got a lot of abuse.

"I think that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should have more moderators than they have. Then they should be banned for life. I think people who do this over social media, or any kind of bullying, should not be allowed to go on them.

"I think there should be a law that they are held accountable for their words and their actions because there's life being taken here because of it.

"Whenever politicians and celebrities are being bullied, it's straight on the news and out there because they are somebody high-profile. The ordinary guy or woman in the street doesn't count and doesn't matter.

"One life is as important as any life. Life's life.

"This is to go to Parliament. We want to go over and deliver it personally. We want people who make people feel that low that the only option in their heads is to take their own life to be accountable for their actions."

Ann said that Kenny's death not only rocked her family but has had an impact with his many friends as well, with others taking their lives - and in her darkest hour she considered it, too.

She said: "We also want to promote the ripple effect. You throw a stone in the water and you see the ripples. Our son was very, very well-known. Everybody said that they thought it was a celebrity being buried that day, that's how big his funeral was.

"Everybody loved him, he was loved by many and he loved many, and I'm not just talking here, I'm talking throughout the world. Our son had friends throughout the world. We got sympathy cards from places like Poland and Australia - people that we didn't even know that he knew. And he did help an awful lot of his friends, too, in and around the time that he was contemplating doing this himself, with their mental health.

"Now because of what Kenneth has done, it has brought their mental health down and they have actually had to go down the route to be counselled.

"I myself, 20 days after Kenneth, the 23rd of January, I ended up in intensive care. I didn't want to be here. I still don't want to be here. I do have family. The hurt, that's why I can't do it, that's what stops me from doing it now. I see what's left behind now."

Since her brother's death, Carolyn has been working to try and save others, but revealed that she and the family are still targeted for abuse online.

She said: "The amount of negative comments still towards my brother, even though my brother is not here to defend himself, towards me and towards the rest of the family about how his daughter is better off without him. And then somebody made a remark towards me to go and kill myself as well.

"It makes our point stronger that even though we're trying to raise more awareness about it and get people the help that they need, people are still doing it to the ones that are trying to help put that awareness out there.

"I address it on my Facebook, especially with men. I'm an admin on a Facebook group, Mental Health Awareness Northern Ireland, and we put a lot up there.

"There's been people on there that I've personally helped out of a dark place. I did a course on mental health and the signs to look out for. I did all this after my brother's because I don't want anyone else to go through it ... If we can save one person's life it's worth it."

To help the Gregg family's campaign and sign their petition, visit Change.org and search for KG,27

If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any issues in this article, please contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000

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