independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Clarkes inundated with support after making son Andrew's suicide public

Derry and Sallyanne Clarke with their daughter Sarah May at the funeral for Andrew last week at Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare

FRIENDS of grieving couple Derry and Sallyanne Clarke have praised their decision to make public the suicide of their son.

The family have been inundated with messages of support from family, friends and members of the public, after they disclosed their son Andrew had taken his own life.

It had been believed that Andrew Clarke, who passed away in Tallaght Hospital on New Year's Eve after being in a coma for four days, had died as a result of injuries sustained while working on a car at the home in Saggart, in southwest Dublin.

But at the weekend his parents issued a statement clarifying the circumstances of the 16-year-old's death.

Stigmatised

Denying it had ever been their "intention to mislead", his mother Sallyanne Clarke said speculation as to what had befallen their son "had spiralled beyond our control" and, hoping he might recover, they had not wanted him "to be stigmatised by his actions in a moment of madness".

Speaking last night, solicitor Gerald Kean, who has been a family friend for over 20 years, voiced his support for the couple.

"This was a brave move and the right thing to tell people what happened," he said.

"I think they were right to clarify the situation. That said, I can fully understand where they came from. I understand the position they took.

"They were distraught – can you empathise and understand? Can you imagine the loss of your only son? I can sympathise with them and understand why they said this.

"They are great parents who loved their son, and were so close to him. My heart goes out to them," said Mr Kean, who had been one of the high-profile mourners at the service for Andrew, held in Clongowes Wood College in Kildare, where he was a boarder.

The Clarke family said they had also been "extremely concerned" about the effect news of their son's suicide would have on his cousins, close friends and fellow pupils.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Clongowes College principal Fr Leonard Moloney said that pupils were being "offered all the friendship and support they needed" from trained counsellors.

"Our focus is the care of the boys and young men in our charge. The whole school community is united for Andrew, our lost friend and member. This is an enormous family tragedy and our prayers go out to Derry and Sallyanne and their family," Fr Moloney said.

Along with their own counsellors, pupils at the school were also being supported by professionals from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), whose staff specialise in working with school communities.

"We have had counsellors on duty for the last week as well as having counsellors from the NEPS, who have been very helpful and supportive."

Fr Maloney asked that the Clarke family be "given the privacy and time and space they needed to grieve".

A spokeswoman for the Clarke family said they would not be making any further comment.

If you need to talk to somebody, you can contact the Samaritans on 1850 609090 (24 hours), by text at 087 2609090, or email jo@samaritans.org

Irish Independent

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