News

‘Too many suicides in Donegal’ - Coroner at Shannon Gallagher inquest

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Driver "could not prevent" fatal crash

Coroner, Dr Denis McCauley.

A Donegal coroner has said there are too many suicides in the county and called for the issue to be highlighted and documented.
Coroner Dr. Denis McCauley was speaking at the inquest into the death of a Ballybofey teenager who died at the home of her foster parents.
Fifteen-year-old Shannon Gallagher took her own life in December 2012. She was described as being at “high risk”, the inquest into her death was told yesterday.
Shannon died by suicide at her foster parents’ home in Castlefinn.
A six-man and six-woman jury returned a verdict in accordance with the evidence after a four-hour inquest hearing in Letterkenny.
The jury foreperson said the jury members were “shocked” that child agency Tusla only had a statutory obligation to visit a child in foster care once a month for the first month.
Senior Tusla social worker Emlyn Hughes said that another social worker, Joe Nelis, visited the foster home seven times in a period of 12 days.
And he made three phone calls to the same location, the inquest heard.
Coroner Dr McCauley, speaking at the conclusion of the inquest, said it was well known that “there are too many suicides in Donegal”.
“We need to recognise this and document it and highlight it to see the problems that we do have,” he said.
He added: “This has been a long and very stressful inquest with a lot of facts to digest.
“It’s such a tragedy that is very hard to comprehend.
“All inter-agencies did their very best but the outcome was not what they had hoped for”.
Dr McCauley said the case had been highlighted but it was important for teenagers with low self worth or who are feeling low, to speak to a friend, a family member, a health professional or a teacher.
“We would want to try and make people see that these things can be prevented”.
Dr McCauley extended his deepest condolences to the Gallagher family
The inquest heard earlier that Shannon Gallagher made an attempt to take her own life on October 23rd and later attempted to self-harm.
The attempt to take her own life came just three days before her younger sister Erin took her own life on October 27th.
As a result Shannon Gallagher became very depressed and was constantly monitored by her school, Finn Valley College, Alan Thompson, the current principal, told the inquest.

Child psychiatrist Dr Don McDwyer told the court that he had seen Shannon Gallagher on five occasions and she was classified as being at “high risk”.
Alan Thompson said Shannon was a “fondly remembered” and “valued” pupil of the college.
Mr Thompson pointed out that he was only made principal in 2013. Mr Thompson said Shannon had disclosed previous incidents of self-harm in 2009 to her school.
He said that she had occasional outbursts of bad temper but was well regarded by staff.
In November 2012, she had taken part in an anti-bullying DVD with other pupils and many pupils were affected by the earlier suicide of her younger sister Erin.
Mr Thompson said Shannon was given regular counselling at school and was regularly monitored.
Condolences were expressed to the Gallagher family by all interested parties at the inquest.

Anyone with any concerns about themselves or a loved one can contact the Pieta House suicide helpline, 1800 247 247, or by texting Help to 51444, or contact the Samaritans on the free number, 116 123, or by texting 087 260 9090. Both services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People are also advised to make an appointment with their local GP during office hours. During evenings, nights or weekends, from 6pm to 8am , people can contact an out-of-hours GP service at NowDoc, 1850 400 911.