The mother of a young Letterkenny man who died after using so-called legal highs has urged all parents to be aware of the danger of such substances over the Christmas period.
The grieving mother released a photograph of her dying son as a warning to others about legal highs.
Twenty-year-old Jimmy Guichard, who was a member of St. Eunan’s GAA club, died in Kent in the UK last year after taking herbal substances.
He suffered a heart attack and severe brain damage. He died 24 hours later after being put on life support.
His mother Karen Audino, who lives in Letterkenny, released pictures of her son on life support in an effort to highlight the dangers of herbal substances.
She has also launched a campaign, along with Jimmy’s sister Samantha, to have the substances banned in the UK. So-called headshops which sell such substances have already been made illegal in ireland.
The substance which Jimmy is believed to have taken before he died is illegal in Ireland.
Jimmy, who played hurling with St. Eunan’s, had moved to Kent to live with his father before he died.
His ashes were scattered at the club’s O’Donnell Park grounds.
She has urged parents to talk to their children, be honest and open with them, and listen to what they have to say.
“With Christmas only round the corner, please all be mindful of the fact that all our children have a bit of surplus cash they wouldn’t normally have,” she said.
“I urge you all to talk to your children about the dangers of the legal high drugs that are still very easily accessed here in Donegal as we are so close to the border.
“These products are still being sold here, not in shops but by people who go in and buy them to sell them on.
“Ask them what they intend to spend their Christmas money on, know where they intend to go to spend it, and if you are in any doubt go with them to make sure they are not buying these substances, it’s OK to be the stalker parent.....it’s your job and your right to know what your kids are doing.”
Karen moved to Donegal from London and brought her children with her. She said Jimmy loved life in Donegal.
“Jimmy took to life in Donegal like a fish to water. He was just 12 and we were in Letterkenny just two days when he saw two young boys outside with what he called ‘funny looking sticks’.
“In London he wouldn’t have been outside so I told him it was all right and he went out and played with the boys.
“Two days later he was playing hurling with St Eunan’s GAA club. He was a total natural because he hadn’t played it before and didn’t have any bad habits. He became a real Irish boy that week and just loved his club, loved playing for them.”