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Thursday 29 September 2016

Grieving dad demands action after latest suicide tragedy

Breda Heffernan, Greg Harkin and Louise Hogan

Published 27/11/2012 | 05:00

Lara Burns
Lara Burns
Lara Burns

THE father of suicide victim Ciara Pugsley last night demanded politicians take "urgent action" to prevent more deaths among young people after a 12-year-old girl took her own life.

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Jonathan Pugsley, Ciara's father, told the Irish Independent: "It is devastating to learn that another young girl has taken her own life."

He made the comments after it emerged Lara Burns Gibbs (12), from Kilcock, Co Kildare, died on Saturday night.

She is the third young girl to take her own life in recent weeks and her death follows that of Erin Gallagher (13), from Co Donegal, who died in October, and Ciara Pugsley (15), from Co Leitrim, who took her own life in September.

Mr Pugsley said: "My heart goes out to the Burns family because I know what they are going through."

His daughter, Ciara, took her own life after a campaign of hatred against her online. There were even vile comments posted after her death.


There have been suggestions that Lara may have been bullied in the lead-up to her death. However, gardai last night said they have not received any complaint in relation to this.

Mr Pugsley added: "I've tried to research all of this and it seems to me that the politicians in this country have spent the past 10 to 12 years talking about bullying but have done nothing about it.

"The time for talking is over. We need urgent action now and urgent policies now to prevent further deaths."

Lara is survived by her mother Helene, father Robert, stepfather Noel and her older schoolgoing brother, Brendan.

The family have asked friends and family to donate to a national suicide prevention charity.

Her aunt, Jeannette Rich, said the family was devastated. "She was young and had her whole life ahead of her. She was a beautifully talented young girl who had the world at her feet.

"Our whole family is devastated by this and don't want this to happen to anybody else's family," she wrote on a special Facebook page created in Lara's memory.

Lara's brother Brendan, who wrote 'RIP sis', created the site in her memory.

A friend of the family described Lara as a lovely young girl who was mad about horses and the hens who were kept in the yard and barn alongside the family home.

He said her death had come "totally out of the blue", and they had not had any indications anything was amiss.

There was a steady stream of neighbours sympathising at the house, in Grange, Newtown, outside Kilcock, where the family moved from Maynooth a couple of years ago.


The family has asked that in lieu of flowers at her funeral, donations be made to Pieta House in Lucan, which helps people struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Lara was a first-year student at Maynooth Post Primary School and yesterday her classmates were being offered counselling. School principal Johnny Nevin said psychologists were working with the school's own guidance and pastoral care team to assist students.

"This is a terrible tragedy for Lara's family, our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by these events. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Lara's family and friends.

"Lara will be missed by all who knew her. We have been in contact with Lara's family and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time," he added.

The National Anti-Bullying Coalition said it was awaiting details of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn's national action plan on bullying, which is due to be completed at the coming days.

"We are hopeful that a multi-disciplinary team made up of National Educational Psychologists, the National Behavioural Support Service and the HSE can make urgent intervention within the school to avoid tragedies such as (that of) Ciara Pugsley and Erin Gallagher," said a spokeswoman.

Lara's funeral will take place tomorrow at St Mary's Church, Maynooth, at 11am.

Irish Independent

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