Teenagers hold Coalisland event to address area’s suicide problem

A cross-community group of Co Tyrone teenagers personally affected by suicide have organised an event in Coalisland to raise awareness of the issue in the area.

Seven young people, aged between 15 and 17, hope to raise hundreds of pounds to support suicide-prevention charities.

Their brave fundraising drive was triggered by the death of a local 17-year-old schoolboy, who died through suicide earlier this year.

His sudden death sent shockwaves through the community – but has tragically not been an isolated case.

The teenagers’ planned fundraising event in Coalisland will take place just yards from at least four families affected by suicide within the past year.

The group hopes their charity quiz night, entitled ‘It Can Happen to Anybody’, will help address the growing issue of suicide across the community.

Group member Tess McKenna, 16, from Dungannon, whose cousin died through suicide, said: “You would think that with all these deaths that more would be done, and more needs to be done because it’s going to get worse.

“It’s good for people to talk and it’s good for people to know about it.

“I think more communication and more talking needs to be done within families and within communities too.”

The pupils, who attend six different schools across Coalisland, Cookstown and Dungannon, met through a youth leadership programme organised by Youth Link NI.

The teenagers were on a residential event in Corrymeela, Ballycastle, when word spread that a local teenager had died through suicide.

Royal School Dungannon pupil James McAdam, 15, from Ballynakelly, said: “It was hard to deal with. There were a lot of tears.”

The group’s fundraising quiz will be held at Brackaville Church of Ireland Hall on Friday.

Money raised will support the Samaritans and the Niamh Louise Foundation.

Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding, who has helped the young people organise the event, said: “Suicide is a live issue within Coalisland and one of the problems is that people don’t talk openly about suicide.

“We should talk more openly about it in a sensitive way so that if people do have any thoughts of suicide then they’re not carrying these thoughts in isolation.”

The fundraising quiz will be held at Brackaville Church of Ireland Hall, Coalisland, on Friday, April 26 at 7pm. Money raised will support the Samaritans and the Niamh Louise Foundation


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