Priest calls for action over suicides


Irish society is failing to protect the most fragile and vulnerable children, a priest at the funeral of a teenage suicide victim said today. Fr John Joe Duffy said the Government must take urgent action to prevent further tragedies.

He was speaking at a Mass for 15-year-old Shannon Gallagher from Co Donegal who took her own life less than two months after her 13-year-old sister Erin died by suicide.

Fr Duffy said: “Society has failed two children, two sisters within two months and that is a most damning indictment for any society evidenced by the second white coffin that is before this altar within two short months, 45 days ago to be exact.

“My heart is devastated. My heart is shattered at how poorly we understand the issues concerning youth mental health and mental health issues in the general population in Ireland. And the terrible consequences we see occurring and re occurring on a regular basis though out the country.”

This morning hundreds of people packed into St Mary’s Church in neighbouring Stranorlar to pay their last respects to the schoolgirl. It was the same church many of the mourners had filled for Erin’s funeral in October.

Fr Duffy said the community had been left stunned by the sisters’ deaths.

He said: “None of us wanted and none of us expected to find ourselves back in this church today to be once again praying this Mass for a 15-year-old child Shannon so soon after the death of 13-year-old sister Erin.

“We are numb and in such a state of shock and unrealness, total disbelief that for the second time within two months that Lorraine and the Gallagher family are having to face the desperate pain and deep anguish of losing such a beautiful child in the most tragic of circumstances.”