Help is at hand for people in distress


Portadown has a caring suicide prevention service called ‘Yellow Ribbon’.

It operates 24/7, the premises are at 44 Church Street (beside Winemart) and the telephone numbers are 07999 030 220 (mobile) and 028 3833 1485 (landline).

We give that precise information in the light of two more ‘non-suspicious’ deaths in a bid to back up the Yellow Ribbon campaign to prevent the growing number of suicides (mostly men) in an area where they have been so prevalent.

The consultant psychologist in charge of the team is Dr Arthur Cassidy, a UK specialist. And we compliment the Yellow Ribbon on their efforts to stem what has been a minor epidemic of suicides over the past few years.

The highly-respected Free Presbyterian Minister Rev Austin Allan (mid 70s) and 41-year-old Philip Murphy (whose roots are in Bannfoot) are the latest victims. And the community feels nothing but sympathy and compassion for their decision to end it all

The Free Presbyterian community has shown total love and concern for their revered preacher and friend whose body was discovered in the garden of his Knockview Drive home, Tandragee. A retired minister of the town’s Free Presbyterian Church, he had been standing in at Banbridge F.P. Church during its vacancy.

Former Craigavon Mayor Mark Baxter, a member at Banbridge, summed up the feelings of everyone when he described Mr Allan as “a gentleman with a fantastic sense of humour, a very Godly and spiritual man who will be sorely missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

He added that Mr Allan had lost his wife Sadie a few years back – they had no family – and he never got over it. Dr Cassidy picked up that theme when he said that suicides are rare among the older generation, but that the pain of losing a devoted spouse never goes away. Mr Allan - who had been unwell – simply wanted to join her, based on their shared Christian faith.

In the case of Mr Murphy, Dr Cassidy, said that particular age group made up a large percentage of suicides, and that the Bann River area (the body was found at the towpath by children on a summer scheme) is a notorious spot.

Without knowledge of Mr Murphy’s specific situation, Dr Cassidy generally cited modern-day experiences and stress for the early middle-aged suicides. These include marital stress, financial problems, sudden redundancy and low self-esteem. The list is long and complex.

And in the case of younger people (another common group) there is peer pressure, cyber bullying, exams, career choice… Modern-day living is tough, given the tsunamic change in society, the loosening of community ties and the reducing influence of the extended family.

Our hearts go out to those left behind by all suicides. A pillar of the Yellow Ribbon policy is for families to contact them if they are worried about a loved one’s state of mind. And, of course, anyone in the depths of depression who feels that life isn’t worth living should act right away. We repeat the telephone numbers - 0283 3833 1485 and 07999 030 220.