Northern Ireland news

Man who loses father and two sisters to suicide urges politicians not to let latest death become "another statistic"

Derry sisters, Charlotte Smith (left) and Kelly Smith, who were both aged 32, who both died by suicide
Marie Louise McConville

A MAN who lost his father and two sisters to suicide has told of how his family have been left "numb" by the trauma.

Glen Smith, from Derry, spoke of their devastation following the loss of his 32-year-old sister, Charlotte last week.

He urged politicians not to let his sister's death become "another statistic".

The mother-of-two took her own life a decade after her sister Kelly, who was also 32, also died by suicide.

The mother-of-three died eight years after their father Noel took his own life in 2002.

Mr Smith said his family had been left feeling "frustrated" at a lack of help for those with mental health and addiction issues.

The father-of-six said he and his mother, Ann Maxwell had spent hours contacting agencies to try and get help for Charlotte, who had a drug addiction.

He also claimed his sister Kelly also had difficulty accessing the right help. He said she had suffered with depression and anxiety and had addiction issues as well.

He said her death came when they were still mourning the loss of their father Noel, who was 49 when he died in 2002.

"It changed our worlds," he said.

"My family fell apart and after Kelly, the family was just scattered. I can see the trauma and it is still affecting us today. It is affecting the grandchildren because it affected us. It has a ripple effect."

Mr Smith said his sister, Charlotte, who he described as "vulnerable", suffered with a "bad drug addiction" and had been "really, really crying out for help".

A few months ago, after finding their sister had hit "rock bottom" she was brought home to her mother's home in the Shantallow area of the city.

He said the 32-year-old was forced to detox on her own over a three-week period in a bedroom at her mother's house.

""It was a nightmare," he said.

However, around three months later, Charlotte relapsed.

On Sunday, September 13, she was found in her mother's home having attempted to take her whole life.

CPR was administered and she was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital where she was admitted into intensive care and placed on a ventilator.

However she passed away on September 16.

Mr Smith said the family had tried to find Charlotte help however were told there was "nothing" that could be done.

"There's no residential place where people can come in and detox under supervision," he said.

"Unless you have thousands and thousands of pounds to go private, there is nowhere in Northern Ireland that can bring someone troubled in and help them," he said.

He said the family had been left feeling "numb" by their loss but paid tribute to the people of Derry city and further afield who had sent their support and prayers to the family.

"We just feel empty," he said.

"My mum, if it wasn't for the support, she wouldn't have been able to cope with it. I don't know where she gets her strength from. It's now, in these months coming, that we are most worried about her."

Mr Smith urged politicians not to let his sister Charlotte "be another statistic".

"If they had have come into our house and had seen the heartache and the look in my mother's eyes and the devastation," he said.

"Politicians are more interested in infrastructure but these are real human beings. Please start looking at people as individuals and not just numbers. The devastation left behind is unbelievable.

"We need more places people can go and talk and we need a detox unit. There has be more education offered at a younger age."

Mr Smith, whose family have organised a suicide and drug awareness walk today at Ebrington Square at noon, said his sisters "didn't want to end their lives".

"They wanted to end the pain they were going through because they weren't getting any help," he said.

**Anyone in distress can contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans on 116 123

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