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Heartbroken mum loses two sons to suicide within 13 weeks

Heartbroken mum loses two sons to suicide within 13 weeks

PJ and Mikey were said to be 'inseparable'

An Irish mum has joined a community group to try and save young people's lives after losing both of her teenage sons to suicide.

Patrice Matthews, from Castlebellingham, Co Louth, lost her first son, PJ, on New Year's Eve last year.

She noticed his mood change suddenly shortly after Christmas, just hours after having fun with his friends and celebrating a family member's birthday.

Recalling the situation during an appearance with LMFM's Late Lunch programme, Patrice commented: "Last Christmas week, he went off shopping with his work bonus and he was in top form. We all sat together on Christmas Day and had the craic around the table on St Stephen's Day before he went off with his friends."

PJ was just 17 years old when he died.
Joe Finnegan/YouTube/Quinn's Funeral Home

"We went out to my nephew's 30th birthday and we were all home before 10pm. PJ landed back with friends and started singing and playing the spoons that he had taught himself from the internet.

"Within an hour, something changed and he became very upset. He was inconsolable and wouldn't tell me what was wrong. I remember going outside to talk to him and I coaxed him up to the bed and I sat at the end of it."

PJ, who was just 17 years old at the time, told his mum he needed to clear his head and walked up the lane to a farm behind their house.

Assuming his dad was up there, Patrice gave him a bit of space before following him and asking him to come back to the house.

"He walked on so I presumed he was ahead of us but when I got back to the house he wasn't there," Patrice recalled. "I messaged him and he said he was on his way."

Patrice went looking and found her son had attempted to take his own life. She quickly called the emergency services and PJ was transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, but he sadly died on 31 December.

PJ and Mikey were said to be 'inseparable'.
Joe Finnegan/YouTube/Quinn's Funeral Homes

It wasn't long before Patrice knew how much the loss of PJ had impacted another of her sons, Mikey, as she explained: "I knew the day that I buried PJ, that I was losing Mikey."

"They were born 13 months apart and were inseparable," the mum said. "I remember looking at Mikey when we had buried PJ in that graveyard and, seeing his devastation, I just felt there was nothing I could do for him. I'll never forget his face and the heartache that was in it."

As Mikey was one year older than PJ, Patrice noted she 'couldn't force him to go to a doctor or get help'.

Thirteen weeks after the death of PJ, Mikey took his own life. Another of his brothers found him, and Patrice is now worried about her other three children, all of whom are doing counselling for their grief.

"Our house isn't the same anymore. Even the silence is different. Everything is different," she said.

Patrice has joined a community group to try and save lives.
Joe Finnegan/YouTube/Quinn's Funeral Home

Following the loss of her sons, Patrice's friends, Sandra and Patrick Byrne from local company Eliteform Manufacturing Ltd, came up with the idea to set up SAFE Castlebellingham, an organisation which can offer more localised 'on the ground' counselling for those struggling with their mental health.

Sandra explained: "The whole community wanted to do something but we weren't sure what. Other services are fantastic but you need appointments to access the services. Suicide doesn't do appointments. We reached out and two counsellors immediately volunteered their time.

"Now we are fundraising for a mobile unit which will move to different villages a few days each week and be on site for anyone who needs to talk. Even its presence will create awareness."

You can donate to SAFE Castlebellingham here.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123

Featured Image Credit: Joe Finnegan/YouTube

Topics: Health, Life