Parents of tragic Bethany make funeral plea to teens battling depression
The parents of an Irish schoolgirl who took her own life have appealed to other teenagers in despair to seek help rather than take such drastic action.
As Bethany Topping (16) was laid to rest on Saturday, her parents Richard and Lorna went public about the cause of her death to try and reach other young people battling with depression and mental illness.
Bethany, from Broughshane, Co Antrim, was found in her home and rushed to Antrim Area Hospital, but could not be saved.
She died on Tuesday in the intensive care unit there.
There was a large gathering at the service for the former pupil of Cambridge House Grammar at the High Kirk Presbyterian Church in Ballymena.
During her funeral, Rev Norman Cameron said the teenager had been battling depression since she was aged 14.
"Bethany has been brought up within a loving Christian environment and was a member of our Girls' Brigade," he said.
"Up until age 14 she lived a trouble-free, fun-filled life. The last two-and-a-half years have been a battle with depression and all that flows from it."
The minister went on to say: "What Bethany did was wrong but sadly the state of her mind was such that she was not able to think clearly and rationally.
"She was ill and was not able to think straight and appreciate all the good things that she had, how much she was loved by her family, how much she was loved by her friends and how valuable life really is."
He said Bethany's parents wanted other young people to take notice of what happened to their daughter and take a step back from the brink.
"Through what has happened to Bethany, other lives might be saved and that would certainly be Richard and Lorna's hope and prayer," he said.
"Young people saved physically from being tempted to take their own lives in the midst of this horrible illness called depression but saved also spiritually, as we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, the only saviour from sin and the bringer of life in all its abundance."
Rev Cameron said he had been touched by the dignity and strong faith of the Topping family, "through not only this past week but indeed the past two years of all that you and Bethany have gone through - of how you have all gone through the nightmare of depression and mental illness and all that that entails".
Her father Richard is the headmaster of Broughshane Primary School, which was closed last Friday as a mark of respect.
Bethany's heartbroken sister Amy thanked all of her friends for their support in an online message.
"Thank you for all the beautiful pictures and posts about Bethany. It means the world to my family and I," she said on Facebook. "Thank you again to everyone who has showed their support, it has made the past few days a lot easier to cope with knowing that Bethany has impacted so many lives in so many different ways."
Bethany was one of three young people who have taken their lives in the past two weeks.
Declan Curley (17) from north Belfast ended his own life the Friday before last, and 21-year-old Cara Maguire from the New Lodge are of north Belfast also died by her own hand the following day.
In 2013 there were 303 deaths recorded as suicides in Northern Ireland, the second highest figure on record.