25 August 2005

Suicide victim's parents in plea over psychiatric services

BreakingNews.ie


25/08/2005 - 19:36:16

The heartbroken parents of a teenage suicide victim today pleaded with the North’s health chiefs to act before tragedy is inflicted on any more families.

Danny McCartan, 18, hanged himself at a derelict house near his north Belfast home in April.

The apprentice joiner’s dreams of starting a new life in the United States were shattered after anti-depressant tablets bloated his body and brought back the weight taunts that tormented his childhood.

With their grief still raw, his parents Gerard and Carol held talks with Health Minister Shaun Woodward at a major suicide prevention conference in Belfast today.

Their anguish has been compounded by the cancellation of a scheduled psychiatric assessment just before Danny’s death.

Mr McCartan said: “I just hope nobody has to go through what we have had to go through.

“Suicide can come to anybody’s door at any time.

“Something needs to be done for the people of Northern Ireland and we’re hoping things start to move.”

Mr McCartan and his wife realised Danny was struggling in January last year when they noticed cuts on his arms.

A GP told them there was nothing to worry about, but months later he took an overdose, they said.

Danny had planned to move to Chicago to be with his older brother after finishing his training.

But instead he underwent treatment at the Mater Hospital and a psychiatric unit at the Knockbracken centre in south Belfast.

At one stage he was on 18 different types of medication a day, as well as being assessed by a psychiatrist.

A social worker stopped seeing Danny when he turned 18 in December, with a Community Psychiatric Nurse assigned.

“The tablets were making him gain an awful lot of weight,” recalled Mr McCartan.

“Danny was 6ft tall and slim, but when he was younger he was small and heavy. He got taunted at school and they came back again.

“In the four weeks leading up to his death he was getting more withdrawn, and then an appointment with his psychiatrist in April was cancelled until October without explanation.

“The day he died Danny came down and spoke to the CPN, he was willing to go into any place to get his head all cleared but we were told there were no beds.

“Danny left the house at 2.30pm on April 11, and we got a rap on the door at 9.30pm. Danny was found hanging in a derelict house on his own.

“There’s a whole lot of answers we are still looking for.

“I believe if Danny had seen the psychiatrist he would still be alive.”

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