Northern Ireland news

Belfast mother tells of "horror" of losing daughter to suicide

Bronagh Madden pictured with her baby daughter, Thea
Marie Louise McConville

THE mother of a young west Belfast woman has told of the "horror" of losing her daughter to suicide, months after she asked for help with mental health issues.

Tracey Madden said her daughter, Bronagh (21) - a survivor of sexual abuse - had been "completely let down" by the health service, having been made promises of support, which never materialised.

She last night told the Irish News that she has been left "devastated" after finding mother of one Ms Madden dead at her home in Mount Eagles on Monday.

A member of Lisburn Women's Rugby Team, she had taken her own life.

Having been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of two-and-a-half, Bronagh fought a lifetime battle with the condition, repeatedly taking seizures and being hospitalised, and despite numerous attempts to stabilise her condition with medication, it was never brought fully under control.

During some of her worst days, the former pupil at Coláiste Feirste suffered more than 100 seizures per day and was constantly battling to live a normal life.

Her epilepsy worsened during her recent pregnancy and after giving birth to her daughter Thea in September, she continued to suffer more severe seizures and was hospitalised at the end of November.

After being allowed out for a few days over Christmas, she attempted to take her own life however no immediate help was offered, her mother said.

This month, Bronagh and her mother travelled to London to meet a consultant to find out if she was a candidate for surgery for her epilepsy.

During this visit, Bronagh once again informed doctors of her mental health issues and was told a referral for an appointment with a psychiatrist would be made. However, her mother said they "never heard a thing about any referral".

Bronagh Madden played for Lisburn Women's Rugby team. Photo courtesy of Lisburn Women's Rugby

As well as the effects of her severe epilepsy, Bronagh was also struggling as a result of sexual assault.

Ms Madden said her daughter had "anger inside her" about the issues.

The mother-of-two said she had been left "devastated" by the sudden death of her daughter.

"To come up home and find your child, isn't something I would wish on anybody," she said.

"It's like a horror film. It's just something you don't want to see".

"The epilepsy got her down but again, she had asked for help and help wasn't available. Help should be there for anybody. They just don't have it available. I don't think they take mental health seriously enough.

"She was completely let down. I just felt we were fighting a losing battle. The seizures were never going to be under control. There was nothing they could do for her. In recent months, her whole personality changed".

She added: "Just watching her go down hill in pain and just watching how she tried to reason things, you just felt lost.

"The thing I will always remember, even though in her short life, she had so much to deal with and contend with, it never held her back. She got all of her GCSEs, then did A-levels. Nothing seemed to faze her".

Luke Madden described his sister as "always really bubbly".

"She loved to laugh," he said.

"She really loved Disney. She loved a joke. She used to say even though she had epilepsy, it didn't have her. Recently, she didn't seem to get a break at all."

Luke, who asked all those attending Bronagh's funeral to wear her favourite colour, purple, described his sister's sudden death as "so surreal".

"It's just completely shocking," he said.

Lisburn Women's Rugby also paid tribute to their team mate, describing how Bronagh was "what rugby was all about".

"Our team is mourning a beautiful soul, who always had a smile on her face and a kind word to give. Bronagh showed so much dedication to our team on and off the pitch. We will miss her dearly".

A prayer service for Bronagh Madden will take place today at Christ the Redeemer Church at 11.30am. Following this, a service will take place at Roselawn Crematorium at 2pm.

:: Anyone in need of help can contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000

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