‘My son is lucky to be alive’ - Derry mother

A Derry mother whose son attempted to take his own life before Christmas, believes more must be done to help young people addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Mary,(not her real name) contacted the ‘Derry Journal’ this week after she read the story of 19 year-old Andy Quigley, who has been missing since last weekend.

“My son James (not his real name) is now 23 years-old and I believe he first started using drugs when he was 12 or 13.

“To say the last 10 years have been hell would be an understatement but everything came to a head on December 16 when James tried to take his own life by jumping into the River Foyle.

“Two joggers spotted James in the water and raised the alarm. Foyle Search and Rescue (FSR) saved James’ life. James had been in the water for over five minutes but FSR said because of the current and the temperature that day, he shouldn’t have survived anything more than 90 seconds.

“James is lucky to be alive but I can’t hide my frustration with the services available to drug addicts and alcoholics in this town.

“James was taken to hospital and assessed by a mental health professional but they released him the very next day - I was in total shock.”

The last 10 years have been extremely difficult for Mary and her family.

At his worst, James broke into his mother’s home, stole her car and crashed it.

Mary also said that in order to fund his addiction to drugs, James has stolen hundreds of pounds from relatives.

“I’ve been to every organisation going in this town but all they do is recite material they learned from a text book or when at university - they judged James. James is not a bad person - he is sick and sick people need to helped, not punished.”

Two weeks ago, Mary contacted Charlie O’Neill. Charlie is a recovered drug addict and alcoholic and has set-up his own organisation ‘Bridge, Peace and Love’.

He commented: “The people who are in charge of the services dedicated to helping young people with drug and alcohol problems need to start listening. I’ve been to hell and back with my own addiction and I know how to speak and work with these young people.

“I’ve contacted many individuals and organisations in this town about developing a purpose built rehab centre but it’s falling on deaf ears.

“I’ve been working with James for the last few weeks and the change in him has been dramatic to say the least. These young people just want people to help them without demonising them and judging them.”

If you would like to contact Charlie O’Neill’s ‘Bridge, Peace and Love’ group telephone Marty Coyle at the Nerve Centre on 028 7126 0562.