‘I am not losing my child to that Foyle!’

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The mother of a 15-year-old Derry boy who has had to be taken from bridges twice within the past month, has called for an overhaul of the support offered through the education and health systems.

The Derry woman said she was at her wits’ end after trying to find help for her son, whom she said is suffering from mental health and behavioural issues, as well as taking cannabis.

Branding drug pushers who sell to children as “worse than paedophiles,” the woman said there been an almost total lack of resources in place to help her son.

She said that despite repeated consultation with his school, there seemed to be more emphasis on discipline than addressing the real issues he was facing.

She also expressed frustration over the medical response.

The woman, who has asked not to be identified, said: “He has been self-harming, slicing himself; he took a couple of overdoses; he has been pulled off the bridges, the Peace Bridge and the Foyle Bridge.

“We have lost so many young people to that Foyle because of the lack of services and funding and the politicians and the government - the only time you see them is when they want a vote.

“There is nothing for that age group, 15 to 21. I have been told that they need to wait till he is 16 and that there is a waiting list for services.

“He was in counselling but because they lost the funding, he has lost all trust in everybody.

“I have been to the doctors to see if there is anything they can put him on. One doctor said to me that because he is a minor they would have to wait to get psychiatric and psychological reports.

“I feel that nobody is paying attention to it, it’s just about brushing it under the carpet.

“I am not the only mother in this position, left asking, have I failed my child? I feel like I’m chasing my own tail, people step in and step away and leave you dangling.

“But I am not losing my child to that Foyle.”

The woman called for a joined-up service that adequately dealt with children experiencing such severe difficulties and which which was consistent.

She also warned that people were all unique and that criteria and tiers were not the best way of assessing the needs of an individual.

*If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at: www.lifelinehelpline.info.