Community groups in the Finn Valley have called for people in the area to support each other in the aftermath of the death of Erin Gallagher.
Sports clubs, youth groups and local clergy have made a joint appeal for the community to help each other cope with the death of the 13-year-old Ballybofey girl who took her own life last month.
Erin’s death has been widely covered by the media following reports that she had been bullied on social networking sites.
The Donegal VEC has also called for space for the school and community to recover and the mayor of Donegal called for an end to reporting on the issue by the media.
In a statement issued on behalf of Donegal Youth Service, Planet Youth Project Ballybofey, Twin Towns Boxing club, Foroige, Sean MacCumhaills GAA club and local clergy, an appeal was made for people to support each other.
“A positive community response is one of the key factors that shapes the way teenagers deal with death,” the statement said. “While the local community is still in a very vulnerable state in the aftermath of the events of last week, it is important that we are all mindful of the part we can play in helping our community cope with what has happened and in supporting all our young people.”
The groups said parents have a key role in helping their children deal with their upset and grief. “Whilst it is important to support the expression of feelings it is also important that it is done in a way that doesn’t cause more hurt to other young people. The last thing anyone wants is for the situation to get worse. There are still highly vulnerable children and young people in the community and they need to be protected.
“The use of social networking sites after bereavement can help young people share their grief but if this is not balanced with time spent talking to friends or caring adults then this needs to be addressed.”
Donegal Youth Service Regional Director, Lorraine Thompson encouraged people to reach out and support each other.
“We need to encourage a culture of support as it is very easy to get sucked into a negative mind space and we need to recognise this is a time for healing hurt and not adding to it.”
Read more in today’s Donegal Democrat.