The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Suicide is Painless?

Sean Smyth

There have being a number of articles written in The Blanket about suicide. This is another and tells the story of “Annie”. Annie was born in Strabane in 1983 one of ten children in the Kelly household. From an early age Annie had taken a battering from the world.

She was not long out of infant school when she was put into care. Unfortunately Annie did not receive the care and loving she so desperately needed. When she was eleven she moved back into the family home in one of the most deprived areas in one of the most disadvantage towns in N.I. were she learnt to fight back against society and others who hurt her.

At the young age of twelve Annie made her first of what turned out to be many court appearances on minor charges. At fourteen she was sent to an adult prison on minor charges. While in prison Annie became more and more distressed and disturbed and showed signs of depression. Despite her cries for help none was given.

In 1996 a powerful commons committee expressed “shock” that a child of fifteen was being held in an adult prison. They did nothing to help Annie. Her despair was eventually turned against herself. Annie became so disturbed that she attempted suicide many times.

Society’s answer was to handcuff her to the floor of her prison cell at night, in case she harmed herself. Annie became so disturbed that a fully kitted riot squad accompanied her at all times.

Yet more M.P’s visited Annie in prison. They too condemned the situation Annie was in, “but still nothing was done about it”.

Her family repeatedly warned that Annie was gravely at risk of taking her own life. Her sister Margo said: 'jail has destroyed her, she has tried to hang herself and slashed her wrists on countless occasions, prison has made her mental. We think she can be sorted out, all she needs is a change.'

In January 2002 a local mental health charity wrote to the Governor of Magaberry prison offering to council Annie free of charge. He replied that he had passed their letter to the department responsible of Annie’s health which would reply - 'they never did.'

On September 7th 2002 Annie hanged herself in her prison cell. She was 19.

Annie’s death poses more question than answers. I have never being to prison but you would imagine that if a prisoner was suicidal the authorities would have taken measures to protect the prisoner at risk?

Annie’s suicide and the way the authorities dealt with it is only one aspect of many problems to be faced within our society and like so many other such issues that affect many of our communities it needs to be addressed ultimately at its root cause.

The government need to provide proper resources and facilities for the treatment of mental health.

Below there is a brief overview of common mental disorder “Depression”

There are three types of depression:

  1. Major depressive disorder “MDD”
  2. Dysthymic disorder
  3. Depressed phase of bipolar disorder “Manic Depression”

Every year up to 25% of women and 12% of men suffer some form of depression. Those aged between 18-44 are most at risk. There is some evidence of inheritance, side affects which can occur in clued 'panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, GAD, PTSD, substance abuse.'

Depression costs the economy between £200-£2,500 million per year. Yet there is no government bodies to provide support to sufferers. Many have to wait between 9-18 months to see a specialist because they cannot afford to pay between £30-£60 per hour to see a private practitioner. By the way there is no government standards for councillors any one can open a practise and call then selves a councillor with the minimal training.

Many people from interface areas, social deprived areas need help and they need it now. It’s time the government and the health authorities tackled mental health. People should not be left to suffer in silence. THERE IS NO SHAME IN BEING MENTALLY ILL.

Suicide is painless? Tell that to the devastated family’s left behind.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



I have spent
many years of my life
in opposition, and
I rather like the role.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Index: Current Articles

8 May 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Volunteer Patricia McKay
Brendan Hughes


Death of Barbara Reilly

The Clinton Family


Republicans and the Protestant Working Class
Gerry Ruddy


Suicide is Painless?
Sean Smyth


The Politics of the Undecidable
Liam O Ruairc


Patriotism Polluting Journalism
Anthony McIntyre


At the Theatre

Annie Higgins


4 May 2003


Official Secrets and Official Lies
Carrie Twomey


Iran's Weblog Quandry

Pedram Moallemian


For A Free Press


Tutored, Managed and Castrated
Anthony McIntyre


Forgetting Eric Honniker
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain


Lukacs After Communism
Liam O Ruairc


How's It Goin'?
Brian Mór


Swept Clean

Annie Higgins




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The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
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