Ballygawely father tells of son’s suicide to deter others

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Ballygawely man Colin Cooper has expressed hope that lifting the lid on his son’s depression and suicide might deter others.

Just over three years ago, his 17 year-old son Matthew lost his battle with severe depression.

Colin now volunteers with Niamh Louise Foundation, a cross-community rural charity set up 10 years ago to support individuals who are struggling with depression, self-harm and suicide.

On Sunday, with the help of Lisburn Baptist Church, Colin organised a special event to speak about depression, suicide and self-harm, drawing upon his personal experience with the issues.

He shared how he dealt with this tragedy, which he describes as “the most difficult time that we as a family have ever experienced.”

With over 300 deaths from suicide each year in Northern Ireland, one in six people struggling with depression and an increase in self-harm of all ages, these issues affect many individuals and their families.

Colin’s talk highlighted in a very practical and realistic way that ‘there is help’ and ‘there is hope’.

He also told of the difference his Christian faith in Jesus Christ made as their family continues to live with the loss of their son, whom he describes as a fun-loving person and “a wonderful musician.”

A range of helpful books and literature on depression and suicide were also available.

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.

They include lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety and there can be physical symptoms too.

Further information is available at

The Dungannon suicide rate looks set to be one of the highest ever recorded after it was revealed that a total of 59 people committed suicide in the first nine months of 2015 in the Southern Trust area.

The figure, which was revealed at the Northern Ireland Assembly was the second highest in Northern Ireland after the Belfast trust’s total of 73.

Local rates have been rising alarmingly since 2012, when there were 46 recorded suicides, and this year’s figure looks likely to break last years high of 59 deaths, which was the second largest amount since records began in 1997. Worryingly, the Dungannon District has one of the highest suicide rates in NI with 17 recorded deaths in 2014, and more than three times the previous year’s total. In global terms, the figures place Northern Ireland in the top quarter of the international league table of suicide rates. More people have died since the Good Friday Agreement than during the Troubles.