** I posted some of these stories earlier, but Blogger didn't get them.


We Say
Nightmare goes on

The grim reality of suicide has again cast a dark shadow over the community this week. The latest tragedy involves Emmanuel McCann, the younger brother of Sinn Féin councillor Fra, who took his own life at his Springfield Road home.

It’s thought that the death of Mr McCann brings to three the number of suicides in West Belfast in the past week. It is hard to be sure of the numbers given the unique sensitivity of the issue, and we can be sure that the official numbers downplay the real statistics. But one thing’s for sure, suicide is cutting a swathe through our brightest and best.

If there can be any good news in the midst of such seeming despair, it is that at last the community seems to be mobilising to address the crisis.

Community workers have formed powerful and effective alliances with grieving relatives who are determined that the suffering must stop, and their work will pay dividends, sooner rather than later we hope. The local MP, Gerry Adams, just last week sat down with Stormont minister Angela Smith in a key meeting designed to draw down the British government commitment and resources needed in the battle to come.

Tragically, Fra McCann was part of the Sinn Féin delegation at that meeting. The veteran councillor is a popular and respected member of the community – and as someone who has toiled away at the coal face for the betterment of his constituents and neighbours, he knows more than most the need for an urgent and professional response to end the hurt.

That he should lose his younger brother just days after that Stormont meeting is not only a cruel irony, but heartbreaking evidence of how wide and deep the pool of grief has become. It is not the first time that the McCann family has been touched by tragedy; it is not even the first time that the family has been touched by suicide. To Fra and his grieving family, the Andersonstown News extends its heartfelt condolences.

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