Top Psychologist Discounts Theory Of Teen Death ‘Pact’

Students from a Co Armagh school attended by three teenagers who committed suicide in recent weeks have received counselling to help them come to terms with their grief.

There has been much speculation that the three boys, all pupils at Craigavon Senior High School, may have been involved in a suicide pact, prompting fears that more lives may be lost as the number of suicides in rural Co Armagh spirals.

However, leading Ulster psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy, who has been working with teenagers affected by the suicides, said there is no evidence to suggest such a pact exists.

Members of the Southern Education and Library Board’s Critical Incident Team have been called in to work with school staff to help provide support to students.

He said the small town is awash with rumours about the circumstances leading to the deaths of the three boys, but dismissed them as “destructive and dangerous”.

Yesterday, the minister conducting the funeral of 15-year-old Lee Walker – the last boy to die by suicide – urged his friends to take note of the devastation caused by the deaths.

And Dr Cassidy explained that he believed that many of the teenagers living in the community had come to appreciate this message in recent weeks.

“Many young people are spreading rumours about waiting lists but that’s just desperately destructive and unhealthy.

“We don’t know whether there is any truth in a pact but my feeling is that there isn’t.”

Meanwhile, David Mehaffey, principal of Craigavon Senior High School, said: ” First and foremost, these are tragedies for families and local communities but the school is also a community and everyone here has been deeply affected by the loss of our three students,” he said.

“My first thoughts are with the parents, immediate family members and close friends of the three boys who have died in such tragic circumstances. We are also aware that this has had a major impact on the school community, our young people, their families and the staff.

“The school is trying to provide all of the support which it can in conjunction with the officers from the Southern Education and Library Board’s Critical Incident Team, who have been tremendously helpful in recent days.”