A Derry man who has himself experienced addiction and depression, has urged local people to support a public rally he has organised at Guildhall Square this weekend.
Paul McHugh (32) from the Top Of The Hill said he was prompted to act after the death of young Jamie Campbell last month - the latest in a spate of suicides to rock Derry.
The tragedy came in the wake of Paul losing two of his own friends to suicide in the past 14 months.
The ‘Fight For Life, Never Give Up’ suicide awareness rally will take place on Sunday at 2.30 p.m., with information to be distributed about the services that are out there for people suffering from addiction, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Mr McHugh said that he was living proof people can, and do, come through issues having made the tough decision to change his life and seek help over a year ago.
“This is something that is deep inside me, I am affected by it big time, going through it and losing two friends to it.
“I went through hell myself. I went through drink, drugs, serious depression. I was 20-21 when everything started going downhill for me. It took me 13 years to beat my depression. It can be done. I only started to help myself about a year ago, saying to myself, ‘this isn’t the life to live.’ You have to tell yourself you want to change and you can beat it.
“Before I locked myself in the house. I wouldn’t go out the door. My mates had to put a ladder up to my flat window and knock on the window, to make sure I was okay.
“When I think about the state I was in it sends a shiver down my spine. It really does. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
Linda Kelly from HURT will be speaking at the event at Guildhall Square alongside Magee-based Ulster University Professor of Mental Health Services, Siobhan O’Neill, Mr McHugh and his friend and fellow organiser Nicola McBride.
VITAL TO GET MESSAGE OUT
Mr .McHugh said it was vital to get the message out that “it’s all right to feel bad and it’s all right to hurt and it’s all right to ask for help,” particularly coming up to Christmas, a time when many people would be facing family or financial pressures or trying to come to terms with bereavement.
“If we can reach one person and stop one family going through hell we will achieve something at that,” he said. “Everybody in this town is affected by this or knows somebody who has been,” he added.
The organisers of the rally have also been in contact with HURT, Youthline, the Rainbow Project, LifeLine, CALMS, Foyle Haven and Dove House among others, ahead of Sunday afternoon’s rally.