Friday 20 April 2018

'There is nothing in this world worth taking your life for' - Heartbroken mum who lost her son (14) to suicide

John just two months before he died
John just two months before he died

Kathy Armstrong

A mother who lost her only son to suicide has urged others who are suffering to seek help, saying: "there is nothing that is worth taking your own life for."

Fiona Mackey's beloved son John died by suicide on November 2 2013. He was aged just 14.

Fiona, who is from Ballyvolane in Co Cork, has spoken about her devastating loss in a bid to try and help prevent other tragedies.

Speaking on The Neil Prendeville Show on Red FM today, she said: "As a family we had a very tough year in 2013, when John went back to school after Christmas in January 2013 he lost a classmate suddenly, that was the first shock he experienced of someone dying.

"About three weeks after that my own father died, which knocked the family for six.

"My own sister was suffering from cancer and she passed away in July, the day after her funeral John's best friend Brian died, he took his own life.

"That year we just had tragedy after tragedy.

"It weighed heavily on all of us but I think it took that extra toll on John."

The Mackey family on John's Confirmation Day
The Mackey family on John's Confirmation Day

Fiona said that on the night of Brian's removal she found out that John had been drinking and herself and her husband spoke to their son about it.

She said: "Myself and my husband told him that isn't the road to go down.

"He seemed to come out of it though, he seemed fine and a couple of weeks down the line we brought himself and his younger sister to Tayto Park for their birthdays.

"We had a great weekend and I told my mother, 'The old John is back, this is fantastic.'"

She said that she still went into John every night after Brian's death to check that he was okay but she stressed that he seemed happy, she says he had no substance issues and was doing "fantastic" in school.

On Saturday November 2 2013 Fiona and her husband were out for the day running errands and John was at home with his three sisters.

He asked his older sister if he could walk their dog and visit Brian's grave, as he did most days.

Fiona said: "She said no problem but when he didn't arrive home for dinner she got a bit panicked, his dad went out in the car to look for him.

"As he passed Kilcully graveyard, he turned and saw the fire brigades, gardai and an ambulance.

"He met some woman on the road who said, 'Some poor young fella has been found in there.'

"My husband jumped out of the car straight away, he went to run through the field and he was stopped as John was being taken out of the field.

"It was nearly the exact same spot where Brian was found."

Fiona also spoke candidly of the moment she knew her son was gone.

She said: "They were still working on him but John was very cold, one thing about him was that he was never in his life cold.

"They stopped then at that stage, there was nothing else they could do, he was gone.

"I had to get my three daughters to the hospital and explain to them their brother was gone, it was hard."

A month later Fiona's brother found letters John had written in the clothes he had worn on the day that he died, which give her some comfort.

She said: "Every so often I still read them at night, I don't know why, it's the last bit of his handwriting that we have."

Fiona has since helped set up an organisation called Circle of Hope Ballyvolane which helps those who are feeling suicidal or those who have been affected by suicide or self harm.

She told that she wants to show others that taking your life isn't the answer.

She said in an emotional message: "There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and we want to break that down.

"There is nothing in this world that cannot be fixed, there is nothing that is worth taking a life for, there's always a chance to sit down and talk about it.

"It just isn't worth taking your own life, there has been so much grief left behind."

She added that her family have some good news as they are about to welcome a new bundle of joy.

Fiona said: "My eldest daughter is expecting her first child on the same week as John's anniversary, he would have been so excited to have been an uncle.

"Hopefully it can bring us a bit of happiness that week instead of the usual unhappiness and upset, I'm looking forward to that, it's a positive."

She also paid tribute to her son, saying: "He was giddy, a bit of a class clown, he loved fishing, walking, the dogs, his friends, the first Christmas after he died his class wrote letters shared stories about him.

"He was a good kid and very protective of his sisters."

Fiona said that as they approach the fourth anniversary of John's death she thinks about the fact that he would be 18 now and she feels he is still with her.

She said: "I hear a creak in the bedroom every night at 10pm and that's the time he had to be in on a weeknight so I feel like that's him.

"Everything is John, every waking moment and everything I do he is there, I talk about him 24/7."

For more information about Circle of Hope Ballyvolane please visit here.

Anyone affected by issues in this story can contact the Samaritans freephone line on 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

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