herald

Thursday 20 June 2019

Four young girls take their own lives in suicide cluster

Four teenage girls known to each other have taken their own lives in the past six months.

Schools in the communities affected have brought in counsellors amid fears of further tragedies.

Three of the girls, who were aged just 13 and 14, have died within the past three weeks. A 17-year-old girl died before Christmas.

The HSE has been alerted to the situation and has put health workers in place to help the girls’ schoolfriends deal with the grief. One 14-year-old from Celbridge died in the past week. Nine days earlier a 14-year-old girl from the neighbouring area of Kilcock died after taking her own life.

Three weeks ago, a 13-year-old from Maynooth, which is situated just a few kilometres away, was found dead in her home.

Her death followed the tragic suicide of a 17-year-old girl from the same school just six months ago.

Schools in the area, which borders Dublin and Kildare, are on alert after it emerged that the girls all knew each other and had friends in common.

Counsellors have been called in to deal with the widespread grief and confusion being experienced by young students.



STRUGGLING

One school spokeswoman told the Herald that her students are struggling to come to terms with the deaths.

“They’ve been affected hugely. It’s a very difficult situation and our counsellors are working day and night.”

The spokeswoman for St Joseph’s College, Lucan, says some of her students have been deeply affected by the three most recent deaths in particular. “With three of the recent suicides they were all very close friends with them. It’s very, very worrying.

“It’s a very difficult situation and our counsellors are working day and night. We’re responding on a very personal level with the students.

“A few particular students need help. Their own parents can help them as well.

“It’s a very difficult situation. I’m meeting with parents about our response.

“Schools have to be very careful because you can’t just walk into a classroom and talk about suicide. It’s not on the |curriculum so it’s not something you can do barefaced in a classroom,” she said.

Fr PJ Byrne from Kilcock and Newton Parish says the community is trying to search for ways to prevent such tragic deaths from recurring.

“It’s about trying to learn what is going on in the minds of 14-year-old girls. We have to say to these boys and girls that this is not the answer and they need to find help.

“The community is doing its best to come to terms with loss and there’s great sadness and great disbelief that this is happening,” he said.

“Everyone is shattered. They are the best of families and the best of people.”

A spokesperson for the HSE said: “Obviously we are |acutely aware of the situation and there are supports there around suicide. The HSE works with the Department of Education to assist parents and students with support services such as counselling.”

A spokesperson for a school where one of the girls was a pupil added: “We are putting on a suicide prevention programme for the parents.”



SENSITIVE

Meanwhile, Cllr Dorothy Corrigan said: “I know the schools would be very sensitive in this because young people don’t have the experience of life to deal with this.

“It’s a shock for any community when someone does this because the community feels helpless and they try to think what they could have done.

“It’s one of the sad realities of life, and my deepest sympathy goes out to the family,” Cllr Corrigan said.

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