A Derry mother who has lost a second son to suicide has called for something to be done urgently to help young people in crisis.
Michelle Campbell was speaking yesterday following the tragic death of her 21-year-old son Jamie last week. Jamie had battled with drugs for a long period of time and just days before his death had taken several steps to try and turn his life around.
His mother said that proper support mechanisms need to be in place to help young people as soon as they reach the point where they feel strong enough to begin dealing with their problems.
Jamie’s elder brother Sean Paul Campbell did not suffer from addiction problems, but also died by suicide four years ago at the age of 19.
Mrs Campbell said that she wants no other family to go through what they have had to go through.
“Once was bad enough, twice is terrible. It just needs to stop. Something needs to be done,” she said.
Mrs Campbell said that Jamie had suffered from mental health issues, severe depression since his brother Sean Paul died by suicide six years ago.
“His mental health just deteriorated after Sean Paul left,” she said. “That’s when all the drugs and everything to block it out started.”
Describing the type of young man Jamie was, Mrs Campbell said: “To me Jamie was just my son. There was drugs involved. When Jamie was on the drugs he was a different person. He wasn’t a likeable person, but when he wasn’t he was just Jamie- anybody who knows him will understand what I mean. He was a great friend to so many people, he had so many friends it was unbelievable.
“He was good craic. Many people have said that in the town or even going to the shop that if they didn’t see Jamie he would have gone out of his way to call them; he would have let himself be seen.”
While Jamie was also under other pressures including issues relating to drug debts accrued, his mother said early last week had marked a major turning point for the young father:
“Tuesday morning Jamie got up- that was his turning point. He said, ‘this was the day I’m getting my head together, getting my act together’.
“He has three young children. He went to Social Services first- he had missed so many appointments and didn’t get to see the children because he was in a bad place with the drugs at every appointment time. He took himself off to Social Services, explained the situation, hand on his heart, told the whole truth.
“They then told him to go to the doctors. I was in contact then with the doctor and he said Jamie came in and was so honest, told him everything said he wanted to change; get off this, get off that.
“The doctor said what Jamie wanted was to get into Grangewood (Gransha) to get away. So the doctor said for Jamie to get that far he would need the crisis team to assess him; he couldn’t do it alone.”
It was at this point, Mrs Campbell said, that things started to go wrong, as Jamie had no confidence in the crisis team due to past experiences during previous times of extreme distress, and he now refused to deal with them.
The doctor then recommended he would be put on a drink and drug course, but it would take a while before this would start, and Jamie then took to drugs.
“But see on that night when Jamie left on Thursday night,” his mother said, “It was the best anybody had seen him in a long time. He had bought a wee car and he was buzzing. I, for the first time in a long time, wasn’t worried, and then that happened.
“Same with Sean Paul, he was sitting here with friends that night having a bit of craic, laughing and joking with friends. But it wasn’t drugs with him. I’m beginning to think now when they are in a great frame of mind that’s when you need to worry.
“In Jamie’s darkest days that’s all he ever says, ‘I’m going to be with my brother’, ‘I’m going to be with my brother. That’s the words he always used.”
Speaking about the need for people to be able to access services when they need it most, Mrs Campbell said: “I know when you go for help you just don’t get it like that, but that’s what Jamie expected. I know that’s not the way it works. But they all say it’s down to them, in their own time. That was Jamie’s time. He realised ‘this was the day where I am going to try to stop everything, and try and get help to do it’.”
Mrs Campbell said however that an effective intervention service at the critical period when it was needed most simply wasn’t available.
“Enough’s enough. We know it is all about money. There is no funding; there is no money, but I could sit here and run down all the stupid things they are putting money into.”
Mrs Campbell has welcomed a fresh drive by a local man to organise a major rally in the city in the coming weeks.