Northern Ireland

Two years on from suicide of young Belfast man, friends raise over £18,000 with football tournament

Ciaran Crawford (20) from Belfast was a popular student and judo champion before he took his own life in 2021. His friends now stage an annual football tournament in his memory, raising over £18,000 this year for a mental health charity.

TWO years after the suicide of a young Belfast man, his close friends are preparing for a football tournament in his name while raising money for charity.

Ciaran Crawford was 20-years-old when he died in hospital on September 25, 2021, one week after he tried to end his life.

A judo champion and capable student in school, his family and friends were devastated by his sudden loss.

The tragedy remains all too common a problem in Northern Ireland, especially for young men.

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra), Ciaran was among 237 deaths in 2021 of which 176 were male.

It was also the highest suicide rate since 2015.

On New Year’s Eve, the Ciaran Crawford Cup will take place at the Colin Glen football grounds in west Belfast from 8.30am to 4pm.

The organisers have already raised over £18,000 for the suicide prevention charity PIPS.

After writing his own reflections for the Irish News, Ciaran’s close friend Ruairi McDonnell (23) said staging the tournament was an important way to remember him and open up the conversation on men’s mental health.

“Originally our aim was to raise money in Ciaran’s memory, but now it’s developed into a space where people who knew Ciaran can come together to play a bit of football then go for a drink afterwards to talk about themselves and Ciaran as well,” he said.

“I know it’s done a lot for me and the rest of the lads.

“It’s always people that you never really expect that are affected.

“Everybody loved him, he was a massive personality and I think that’s why so many people are coming to the event.

This year, around 160 players will be taking part.

“He has his school mates, his university mates as well as people from his judo and hurling club,” said Ruairi.

“We wanted to welcome new teams while also keeping it personal and for people who knew and loved Ciaran.

“All these different groups from across his life. I hadn’t met his judo or university mates before, so it’s just nice we can all get together and talk about it.”

Help is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for those struggling with their mental health.

Advice is available at, while Lifeline operates a free 24-hour crisis response helpline (0808 808 8000) and Samaritans provide emotional support for anyone in emotional distress or at risk of suicide throughout the UK and Ireland on 116 123 or online at