“Time to stop talking and start acting”

Mark McCann and Conor Carlyle who died by suicide
Mark McCann and Conor Carlyle who died by suicide

A Derry mother whose son died 13 years ago, has called on politicians to ‘stop talking and start acting’ on the issue of suicide.

Lorraine Curran’s 17-years-old son, Mark McCann, died by suicide in 2005. His friend Conor Carlyle died in similar circumstances just two years later.

Since Mark’s death, 444 people have died as a result of suicide in the North West.

Lorraine told the ‘Journal’: “2005 was a really bad year for suicides in Derry and Belfast. We are now in 2018 and what has changed?

“There are amazing mental health organisations within the Derry area full of really, really good and passionate people who care, but it doesn’t look like it’s enough.”

Lorraine said Mark was a ‘typical’ 17-years-old who showed no outward signs of having mental health issues prior to his death and had ‘everything to live for.’

She said that suicides have a huge impact on those left behind and studies show that at least 60 people are affected by these sudden deaths.

“Suicide awareness is everywhere at the moment, be it the messages of hope on the Foyle Bridge or other similar stories from England. Locally there has been so much talk about a crisis centre or a task force to address the issue.

“There has been a lot of talk but very little action because we don’t have the political leaders to push things forward.”

Lorraine said the grief caused as a result of death by suicide is ‘different’ because of the ‘what ifs’.

“I often think what if Lifeline had been there at the time Mark died, or a crisis centre, or if there was no stigma in young men sharing their feelings, would it have made a difference? I just don’t know.”

An annual football match has been held every year since Mark and Conor died.

This year Lorraine is going to use the event to mark the 444 deaths by suicide in the north west.

She hopes to have 444 pairs of shoes to line the football pitch to highlight how many people have died in this way.

“I want people to know it is okay not to be okay.

“And if you are not okay please talk to someone.”

The ‘Nadger and Conor Memorial Cup’ will take place at the football pitch at Ballymagroarty Community Centre tomorrow (Saturday), August 4, at 1.00 p.m.

Shoes can be donated at the community centre, the mobile shop in Sheelin Park or can be collected by contacting the Facebook page.