Galway Coroner’s Court hears of five suicide cases in five-month period

Coroner for Galway West Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin: sympathised with family over tragedy.
Coroner for Galway West Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin.

A 14-year-old boy died by suicide at a time when everything in his life was just “falling into place”, the Coroner for West Galway was told last week.

This was just one of five cases of death by suicide to come before the Coroner Dr Ciarán MacLoughlin over a two-day period last week – all of which happened between May and September of last year.

The Coroner’s Court heard evidence into the deaths of two men, a school boy and a young woman, all of whom died by hanging – and one retired woman who died following the ingestion of a toxic substance.

The young boy, who was just days short of his 15th birthday, had been in “good form” in the weeks before his death and there had been no sign of what was to come.

His mother told the inquiry that he had recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia and good supports had been put in place at school.

She said the boy, who just gone back to school where he was starting third year, was an “angel” at home – happy once he was able to cook and clean.

He had stayed home to clean on the day he died, deciding just before the rest of his family left, that he did not want to accompany them to a child’s birthday party.

When his mother returned home around two hours later, she found her son in a non-responsive state and alerted emergency services. He was pronounced dead soon after.

Dr MacLoughlin found, in accordance with the medical evidence, that his death was caused by asphyxia due to hanging, and expressed his sincere condolences on what he described as “the very tragic and sad circumstances of this young man’s death”.

In another case, the court heard how a woman her sixties had attempted two previous overdoses at her home before ingesting a highly toxic substance ten weeks before she died in University Hospital Galway.

The woman, who was single, had emergency surgery to treat the damage to her gullet caused by the substance. However, the irreversible damage to her organs led to her condition deteriorating and she died in ICU from pneumonia, brought on by the ingestion of the substance.

A relative told the Inquest that the woman had been diagnosed with a personality disorder six months previously, but that up until then there had been no signs of any mental illness.

Dr MacLoughlin returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence describing it as “a very tragic outcome”.

Evidence was heard of a 19-year-old woman who died by suicide who was found dead by her brother at the family home.

Despite various attempts to resuscitate her, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Coroner heard evidence of a man in his fifties who died as a result of asphyxiation at his home in the west of the county.

It was recorded that the man had not been seen for two days before he was discovered by his brother who became concerned about his well-being, having not heard from him.

In accordance with medical evidence, the Coroner ruled that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging.

The death of a man in late 40s who went missing for four days and was later found dead in a wooded area, was as a result of asphyxiation, Dr MacLoughlin ruled upon hearing the report of the consultant pathologist.

Manager of Pieta House on Merchants Road, Galway City, Marie Whyte, told the Galway City Tribune that even one death by suicide is one too many – and implored people to seek help if they are in any doubt over their mental wellbeing.

“If you are in any doubt, don’t wait – just come in to us, or call us. It always helps – the talking therapy helps because it takes a load off,” said Ms Whyte.

“We need to be getting that message out to young people and we’re doing that thorough the Resilience Academy in schools. That’s about teaching resilience and to be more aware of mental health – and to reduce the stigma around it,” she added.

Ms Whyte said that statistics and numbers can sometimes be misleading, but it was important to remember that every person who dies by suicide is a human being and another life lost.

■ Anyone affected by the issues raised in this article can contact Pieta House on (091) 502921 or 1800 247 247; or Samaritans on 116 123.