Tuesday 16 January 2018

Gallagher girls' mother will remain 'strong' for her four-year-old son

Greg Harkin

THE mother of two girls who took their own lives within seven weeks of each other says she will be "brave" for them as she lays her eldest daughter to rest today.

Distraught Lorraine Gallagher will lead mourners at the funeral Mass this morning for her 15-year-old daughter Shannon, seven weeks after the death of her youngest daughter Erin (13).

Both girls took their own lives. Online bullying has been blamed for Erin's death while Shannon was left heartbroken by the death of her sister.

Last night, Lorraine (36) said she had to remain strong for her two girls and their little brother, Sean James (4).

"I know I have to be strong for my girls. They were strong girls," she said in a statement released through her solicitor.

"I have to stay strong and to say one final goodbye to Shannon. I know she will be with Erin soon.

"The girls doted on Sean and I know they will want me to be strong for him and to help him get through all this," she said.

Lorraine said people had been so supportive of her family, especially yesterday as hundreds of young people visited the wake at the family home in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, to pay their respects.

"I wouldn't have been able to get through this without the support and kindness of people," said Ms Gallagher.

"I just hope that nobody has to go through what I am going through," she added.

Fr John Joe Duffy, the priest who officiated at Erin's funeral, is due to conduct Shannon's funeral today.

The curate at St Mary Immaculate Parish Church in Stranorlar, who led mourners at the funeral for Erin on October 31, said the community has been stunned by Shannon's death.

Fr Duffy told mourners at Erin's funeral that society had failed her.

"People are just numb there," he said. "People are just shocked and stunned that this happened again and are quite rightly asking, 'Why?'."Shannon's funeral Mass will take place today at 11am followed by burial alongside Erin afterwards in Castlefin.

Donegal Mayor Frank McBrearty, who dedicated his year to highlighting mental health, said the Government had to tackle "the suicide crisis".


The Labour Party councillor said last night: "We need a properly funded national campaign to deal with this.

"We have seen huge resources put into tackling the high number of casualties on our roads and we now need to see a similar campaign to tackle the high number of suicides here.

"As a society we need to look at how people deal with mental health issues and we need to do that as soon as possible."

That call was echoed by Console, the national suicide prevention organisation. CEO and organisation founder Paul Kelly said there needed to be increased education and action in identifying possible suicide and self-harm clustering in communities.

"Several communities across Ireland are trying to cope with the aftermath of not one, but a cluster of suicides in a short space of time," said Mr Kelly.

"We need to address the increased risk of suicide and self-harm clustering and contagion, in particular among young people.

"Early identification of, and responding to, emerging suicide clusters is critical in reducing the incidence of suicide within our communities.

"Through our work we see how vulnerable communities are in the aftermath of such tragedies, and we want them to know that we are there for them."

Irish Independent

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