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Heartbroken Mom Lost Two Teen Sons To Suicide Within Weeks


Heartbroken Mom Lost Two Teen Sons To Suicide Within Weeks

“On the day that he had died, as I went out the door, I said ‘I love you Mikey.'”

Patrice Matthews’ grief is one that’s truly beyond words to describe and the day the family buried their younger boy, she knew she was going to lose his brother. And truly, no further than 13 weeks later, he followed after his 17-year-old brother by taking his own life.

PJ was 17 when he took his own life, on New Year’s Eve of 2021. Patrice described he and Mikey as an inseparable duo.

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“He was a character. He would push you to the edge and be the first to try new things,” the mom shared with LMFM’s Late Lunch program. “He left school after fifth year because he was mad to work. He was great with his hands and could take anything apart and put it back together again, especially tractors and vintage tractors, which he loved.”

“He’d take on any job and finish it completely. 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.”

“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.”

“He then bolted up and said he had to go and clear his head. I followed him but saw he was walking up the lane to the farm behind the house. The yard lights were on and I thought his dad was up there with the cattle so I left him for five minutes.”

“I then went up and found him in the medicine shed. I remember rubbing my hands on his face and his tears were tripping. I asked him to come back to house and he agreed. He walked on so I presumed he was ahead of us but when I got back to the house he wasn’t there. I messaged him and he said he was on his way.”

But PJ’s mom just knew something was wrong when she heard nothing back and recalled, I’d a sick feeling and just knew we would need an ambulance.”

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Patrice could not notice the sound of her own screams as emergency services arrived and attempted to resuscitate PJ as they headed for the hospital. But he, unfortunately, passed away hours before it turned 2022.

She could feel how devastated Mikey was over losing PJ. She shared, “He was 18. I couldn’t force him to go to a doctor or get help even though I spoke to him at length about it. On the day that he had died, I left to go to the funeral of a family friend who had died by suicide and, as I went out the door, I said ‘I love you Mikey.'”

“He rolled his eyes at me, laughed, and said ‘aye!'”

“At 11.50pm, my son Conor came running in the back door looking for help after he and friends had found Mikey in the same field where he had been fencing earlier.”

Everything has changed in Patrice’s house since then. She said, “Our house isn’t the same anymore. Even the silence is different. Everything is different.”

“I knew the day I buried PJ, I was losing Mikey.”

In light of this heartbreaking situation as well as past cases, Eliteform Manufacturing Ltd’s Sandra and Patrick Byrne are setting up a system that provides counseling service that’s more “on the ground” and localized.

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The SAFE Castlebellingham is meant to help make it easier to reach out to counselors specific to concerns over suicidal tendencies with immediate response. Patrice explained, “Other services are fantastic but you need appointments to access the services. Suicide doesn’t do appointments. We reached out and two counselors 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.”

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