Two parents have been left heartbroken after their sons all killed themselves, as well as their cousin.
Patricia and Eddie Ferrin lost their sons Stephen, 31, Niall, 19, and Kieran, 24, to suicide, all in a space of six years. Their cousin Christopher also committed suicide. The heartbroken parents are left with their two daughters, having lost all their sons.
Dad-of-one Stephen Ferrin, 31, died at the weekend just days after returning home from going missing. His death was the fourth suicide to hit the Northern Irish family after his brothers Niall, 19, and Kieran, 24, took their own lives, as did their cousin, Christopher, 19.
Parents Patricia and Eddie told the Belfast Telegraph: “Stephen is a father, a brother and a son who is cherished and deeply loved and will be sadly missed by all his friends and family. He was a handsome young man, who was very witty, and who had lots and lots of friends.
“His death is devastating to us, to his friends and to the whole community and we would like to bury him with the dignity and the respect he deserves. ”
Stephen was reported missing last week before being found after an appeal but he was discovered dead at home on Saturday just days after his return. Stephen is also believed to have lost five close friends to suicide.
The second son, Kieran took his own life in 2014 five months after reportedly being beaten unconscious in a vicious sectarian assault. His death came three years after brother Niall took his own life. Niall was also reported to have been the victim of a sectarian attack at the age of just 15.
Cousin Christopher’s suicide in 2010 came just days after he had reportedly broken down in tears after waiting all day to see a mental health team.
Family friend Philip McTaggart, who also lost his son to suicide, told Belfast Live: “It is utterly heartbreaking. Stephen was a very pleasant young man, a very witty young man. He had lots and lots of friends. He had been going training, had been doing very well at that.
“All of a sudden I think he went into a downward spiral and he left the training and ended up leaving his job. These are all classic signs that a young man is feeling down and maybe some things had just got on top of him.”
He added: “I have known the family for a lot of years. In this case, Stephen had seven friends, one cousin and two brothers that he lost to suicide. Why would this man not have been given the proper support? That is another young man who is no longer with us. Our system is broken. We’ve got to find a better way of doing this.
“And I’m not blaming nurses and I’m not blaming doctors. But there has to be a better way if somebody is vulnerable. The World Health Organisation states clearly that if somebody loses a loved one to suicide that they have a high risk of taking their own life.
“This young man didn’t lose one person, he lost two brothers, a cousin and five friends. It’s just unbelievable. My belief is that we need to call for a dedicated centre to deal with people who have mental health problems, who are vulnerable and at risk of ending their own lives.”
He continued: “The wealthiest place on our island is the graveyard simply because of all those who have sadly ended their own lives. They’ve had wonderful gifts and talents. They could have been doctors, poets and teachers and sadly never had the opportunity to share those gifts with us.
“A father, a son, a brother is sadly no longer with them. They said that they miss their loved one Stephen and they want to bury him with respect and dignity. They wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. They would encourage anyone who has issues or difficulties to talk to somebody and not to suffer in silence.”
Stephen’s funeral is expected to be held later this week.