‘Messages of Hope’ placed on two of the city’s bridges, in a bid to reach those at risk of suicide, have been removed by local ‘thugs’.
The inspirational messages were placed on the Foyle and Craigavon bridges by local teacher, Gary Clarke.
He initially set up a page on social media to reach out to anyone feeling suicidal and, within weeks, thousands of people were following it.
Messages were written by members of the public and placed on the bridges to let people, feeling at their lowest ebb, realise that they are important and cared for.
They were removed from both bridges one week ago.
“The messages on the Foyle Bridge were removed by young fellas on bikes and they were laughing about it,” claimed Gary. “Those placed on the Craigavon Bridge were torn down by fully grown men.”
In fact, bystanders videoed and photographed the culprits and sent them to Gary.
He said he was ‘shocked’ and ‘disappointed’ that the messsages were torn down, but said it won’t deter him.
“There is a suicide epidemic in this town at the minute and I am not going to stand for a few thugs taking these messages down.”
Since last week, Gary has been inundated with new messages to be placed on the bridges, since they were removed.
He believes that the messages are highlighting the shortage of mental health services in the city.
“So many people have got in touch about lobbying for the funds to work towards what is needed. Others have messaged to say they feel like the North and, in particular, Derry, are being failed by having inadequate mental health facilities.
“When I started this I thought if I can save one life or change someone’s mind, that would be enough, I never expected to be informed.”
However, last weekend, he received news that the messages did have an impact.
“A woman got in touch to say she had planned her suicide. She saw one of the posts shared on social media. She contacted Lifeline and is getting the help she needs.
“She told me she owes her life to these messages. That makes me feel unbelievable.”
*Lifeline can be contacted on for free on 0808 808 8000.