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Stephen Ferrin mother: "I've lost them all, I've lost half my family"

Requiem Mass for Stephen Ferrin was held at Sacred Heart Church in north Belfast 

A mother who lost three sons to suicide has spoken of how she feels the medical community failed her youngest son.

Speaking to BBC's Talkback programme, Patrica Ferrin said she knew "we didn't have much time with,"  Stephen the week before his death because he had become withdrawn. 

"He wasn't the same person, I had lost him from the week before he went missing."

Stephen, 31, was found dead at his north Belfast home last month. Stephen's brothers - Kieran (24) and 19-year-old Niall - died by suicide, as did his cousin Christopher, who was also 19 years old. Several friends had also taken their own lives. 

Mrs Ferrin said that Stephen had told her that he was "a product of his enironment". He was "tormented," she added. 

A father-of-one from the Oldpark area, Stephen had been found in Derry following an appeal after going missing, but was discovered dead just days later.

He had spent time on a mental health ward, but his mother said it was no help.

"It was like something from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (a reference to the 1975 Jack Nicholson film, which was set in a mental institution)," Mrs Ferrin said.

"Stephen was depressed, he wasn't suffering from psychosis, he needed to talk.

"I sat up many nights with him, talking.

"He was like a wee boy. I couldn't go too far away without him ringing, 'mummy, mummy,' he reverted back to childhood."

Mrs Ferrin said that the medical community had let her son down. 

"For him to beg and say 'please help me,' that brought tears to my eyes as well as anger, to be weakened like that," she said.

"And for them (medical staff) to turn around and say they couldn't get a bed, they couldn't get this or that, to me it was feeble excuses.

"I was annoyed, to me they should have tried harder knowing he was high risk.

"I've lost them all, I've lost half my family," she said.

At Stephen's funeral, Fr Darach Mac Giolla Catháin recalled how kind Stephen had been from an early age, telling mourners "he would give up his pram for his sister" and was "very bright at school".

The talented chef "adored his little girl Sophie and was close with his family", treating his nieces and nephew to chocolate and sweets.

His sense of mischief was recalled and love of "playing tricks on people", along with how he had a "good sense of humour, (was) witty and enjoyed a laugh".

Fr Mac Giolla Catháin said he knew family and friends have been wondering what Mr Ferrin's troubles had been and why he or they "didn't say something",

"It does not serve any purpose for us to torture ourselves with such questions, natural though they be," he said.

"Rather we ask what we can, as individuals and as the parish community of Sacred Heart, do to ensure that we do not have to gather in such circumstances as these again."

He told young people that it was "brave to admit to ourselves and to others that we have problems, that we have worries, that we have anxieties, that we carry burdens that cause us to lose sleep and shed tears.

"We are truly heroic when, with the grace of God and the help of others, we face up to the reality of our lives and know that there is always hope."

He said "something, maybe many things must have been weighing on Stephen's mind over these days, weeks, months, maybe even years".

Burial took place afterwards at Carnmoney Cemetery.

Mr Ferrin is survived by his parents Patricia and Eddie, sisters Seaneen and Danielle, and seven-year-old daughter Sophie.

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