A heartbroken Limavady woman who lost her teenage son to suicide is urging boys and young men to speak out about suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Linsley Simpson, whose son Ben Morrow died the day before New Year’s Eve, is speaking out after a leading children’s charity revealed more than twice as many boys aged 10 to 19 years died by suicide than girls in 2015.
“No one should ever feel alone. Parents should always be listening because when your child walks out the door you don’t know what’s going on,” said Linsley.
Linsley agrees with Childline, who want boys to speak out about suicidal feelings as figures reveal they are significantly less likely than girls to talk to counsellors about thoughts of ending their lives.
The Limavady woman and her partner, Darren Morrow, say they never would have thought their “caring and loving” son would have taken his own life when he was just two weeks shy of his 18th birthday on December 30, 2016.
“It’s soul destroying. We didn’t expect it at all,” said Linsley.
The Limavady woman said she had a close relationship with her son, who loved his job, travelling to new places.
Linsley said even when Ben was away he would be on the phone to her several times a day. He was due to travel again last month, “but February didn’t come quick enough”.
Linsley said Ben didn’t want to bother his parents because his dad suffers from epilepsy.
Linsley urges parents to encourage their children to be open about their feelings.
“It’s not hard to listen. I always say to people to talk and be open and learn stuff and stop giving off about silly things. Stop dictating and just be there, no matter what. Accept them because they’re not there for long.
“They’re not babies forever,” said Linsley. “I miss him every minute, every second of the day.
“You just want him to come through the door,” she added.
Childline has launched a new campaign Tough to Talk, backed by footballer Wayne Rooney.
It aims to encourage boys to speak out about suicidal thoughts and feelings.
In Northern Ireland, the NSPCC is calling for the Department of Health’s suicide prevention strategy to have a greater focus on children and young people.
The charity also wants to see increased investment to address the lack of specialised mental health services for children across the north.
Neil Anderson from the NSPCC said “we need to see a greater focus on children and young people when looking at how we can tackle the issues around suicide” in the north.
“Children struggling with suicidal feelings can often feel alone with nobody to talk to and nowhere to turn for help,” he said.
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk