When a child dies by suicide

    Friday, 28 February 2020
    Last year almost 900 people gathered in Parc du Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark and walked a 5km route from the darkness into the light, symbolising the journey from despair to hope.

    ‘I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I hadn’t thought Christopher was ok – just because I loved him so much.’

    ‘Suicide doesn’t just happen to others.’

    Darkness Into Light” means different things to different people. Many of us have moments where we feel stuck in a dark place, yearning to get back to the light.

    For my family and I, it symbolises a long struggle to cope with the terrible shock and sadness we feel on losing our beautiful son Christopher to suicide in 2010. 

    When I found out what had happened to Christopher it was IMPOSSIBLE to believe… not my beautiful son. He knew he was loved and adored by all of us, me, his dad, sisters and extended family. He knew I would do anything I could to help him.

    He had so much to live for.

    There was no explanation…no note…no warning.  

    We were left with the most horrible feelings of guilt – we hadn’t realised he was feeling so down – he didn’t contact us in that moment when he felt that the pain was too much, and his mind took him to that dark place where he couldn’t reason logically – that moment where he made the worst decision of his short life.

    I’ve spoken since with a suicide survivor, he told me the pain and despair were so bad that ending his life was the only way he could see to end the suffering.

    The sad thing is that there ARE choices – suicide is not and should not be seen to be the only way out. The problem is that we don’t have enough awareness of mental health issues. The problem is that depression is too often seen as a sign of weakness, and not talked about enough. There definitely IS a stigma attached to suicide.  

    Suicide doesn’t just happen to others. That’s why we really have to look out for the people we love and ask the questions – even if it seems interfering.

    I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I hadn’t thought Christopher was ok – just because I loved him so much.

    Looking back on Christopher’s life, I think he found leaving his childhood behind difficult. He didn’t cope very well on leaving university – he continued partying – I always told him to be careful. But there comes a time when parents have no control over their child’s decisions.

    Eventually there were consequences on how he felt about himself, pretending to be ok yet losing his self esteem, little-by-little, to the point where he made that fatal decision. 

    No family should have to deal with a loss such as ours. It makes you question your own self-worth. What did we do wrong? What SHOULD we have done? Why didn’t we see he needed help? Why didn’t we check up on him more, question him, question his friends? WHY? WHY? WHY? 

    As a family, we have kept very close, just like when Christopher was here with us. Our four little grandchildren know they have an Uncle Christopher who is a twinkle star in the sky. Our immense love for him lives on in our hearts.

    Although I still have moments of intense pain – when I just want to be alone with him and my memories – I can say I’ve survived the worst loss and it’s made me a stronger person. Not because I want to be, but because you just don’t have a choice.

    Suicide is not just a departure, it’s leaving behind all those who love that person and who are condemned to a lifetime of questions and incomprehension. Learning to accept and forgive takes a long time, but it’s what liberates our heart from the pain, and starts the healing.”

    Anne McKeown


    Suicide is an international issue, Belgium has one of the highest rates (6 deaths every day), which is increasing.

    Darkness Into Light is a global movement, founded by Pieta House in Ireland, dedicated to ending suicide and supporting those who engage in self-harm.  

    Last year almost 900 people gathered in Parc du Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark and walked a 5km route from the darkness into the light, symbolising the journey from despair to hope.

    Their registrations raised funds to support the work of Centrum ter Preventie van Zelfdoding and Centre de prévention du Suicide in Brussels, and Pieta House.

    The 3rd Brussels walk, under the patronage of EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, takes place at 04.15, Saturday 9 May 2020. Register at www.darknessintolight.ie to raise awareness and funds to combat suicide. Check out @DILBXL and Darkness Into Light Brussels on Facebook for more information.

    For help, you can contact:
    www.preventiezelfdoding.be  1813, 24/7
    www.preventionsuicide.be      0800 32 123, 24/7
    www.chsbelgium.org                 02 648 40 14, 24/7