A heartbroken Derry mother who lost her 19-year-old son to suicide has urged anyone in despair to seek urgent help.
Colette Quigley spoke about the devastating impact the death of her son Andrew has had at a special rally on Wednesday night.
Andrew’s remains were recovered from the River Foyle in January this year. He had been battling addiction problems prior to his death.
Speaking before a crowd of over 100 people at a candle-lit vigil to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday night at the Children Of Hope statue outside St Joseph’s Church in Galliagh, Ms Quigley, said:
“My soul is now empty, I feel that I have lost my soul, Andrew was that big a part of my life, of me.
“My message tonight is if you are feeling suicidal, please get help, please talk to someone, don’t be leaving your families with a million questions why, because my biggest problem now is I feel like a complete failure- as Andrew’s mammy I failed to protect him, I failed to protect my son, and that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.
“So please if anybody is out there and they are feeling really low, suicide is not the answer because it just leaves more questions.”
A minute’s silence was observed at the vigil to remember all those from the area who have died by suicide.
Colette’s brother and organiser of the event, Independent Derry-Strabane Councillor Dee Quigley, told those gathered that it “particularly hard” this year as Andrew was not by his side, as he had been at last year’s vigil.
Calling for greater resources and a proper plan to deal with suicide, Mr Quigley said: “We want to show the community that we are here, and if someone is affected by suicide we are all in it together and we are here to support one another and raise awareness.”
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly, who also attended the vigil, said: “Its important for people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the families of people who have taken their own lives.”
During the vigil, a talented young woman read out a poignant poem about “a very special person” whom she said was battling depression.
A gifted young singer and guitarist meanwhile delivered a stirring rendition of ‘In The Arms Of The Angels’, accompanying herself on guitar.
After the twilight rally, dozens of people placed their candles at the base of the statue in Galliagh a symbolic gesture of remembrance and hope for the future.