Mum heartbroken after tragic death of Downpatrick teenager

Mum heartbroken after tragic death of Downpatrick teenager

9 January 2019

A DOWNPATRICK mother has spoken of her heartbreak after her 15 year-old son took his own life.

The tragic death of Aaron Laverty, who has been described as a well-liked youth, has sent shockwaves through the town. 

Speaking shortly after her son was buried last Wednesday, Jackie Stewart says she “doesn’t see how things will ever be normal again”.

However, the mother-of-six has decided to speak out in order to help save another family from the grief that her family is going through.

“This came so unexpectedly to my family. It really makes you sit and think,” said Ms Stewart.

“I just hope that it makes people think as I never thought it could come to my door. I would just like to say that people, particularly young people, do need to learn to talk and to open up to others. 

“There is always somewhere out there. If we had have known that it was going to happen, there would have been so many people there for him. It’s just heartbreaking to think that he thought he didn’t have anyone that night and that he went and made that decision.”

Aaron, who would have turned 16 on January 29, was found in the early hours of December 28 close to his home in Gallaun. 

Ms Stewart spoke of the hours before she learnt the horrific news when she thought he would stay with his father, Damien.

“I can remember ringing him and he said he was in the Chinese with his friends and that he might stay at his dad’s,” she said.

“I assumed he had gone to his daddy’s so when I got up, I went on to work. But the police came to my work and told that Aaron had been found by a member of the public.”

The news came as a complete shock to her.

“There was no indication that anything was wrong,” she said. “From what his friends told me, Aaron was always more concerned about everyone else than himself. If someone was feeling down, he was the first one to help them.”

She paid a loving tribute to her son, describing him as an “outgoing wee boy”.

“Aaron was very funny and bubbly, and was always looking to be out with his friends and just loved being out.

“All of his teachers told me that Aaron was always the joker in the class. He would have been seen as the class clown, I suppose. It didn’t matter if he got into trouble for it as long as he was making people laugh.”

Ms Stewart added that her son was the type that tried to cheer everyone else up.

“Nobody else was allowed to be in a bad mood around him.

“If they were, he was the one who would have really tried to pick people’s spirits up.”

Aaron attended Downpatrick Primary School and went to De La Salle High School and Blackwater Integrated College before attending the Alternative Education Provision (AEP) unit in Downpatrick from his fourth year. 

He was a keen footballer who used to play for Celtic Bhoys and was a Liverpool supporter.

Ms Stewart paid her thanks for all the support she has received since Aaron’s death.

“The neighbours have been fantastic and all have really rallied around me. I was overwhelmed that my neighbour, Nadia Correia, set up the Go Fund Me page and by the people who contributed to it. The money will help go towards a gravestone for Aaron’s grave. I have been overwhelmed by how much people pulled together.

“The police were so respectful in how they handled me and my work called round to offer support and the children’s schools are working to support them once they return to school.

“I can’t put into words how thankful I am for everyone’s support and how they have rallied around.”

Ms Stewart is supportive of PIPS Downpatrick, which is holding a ‘Safe Place’ event in the Ballymote Centre tomorrow night in order to help highlight the services and support for people in despair or distress.

“I’m telling his wee friends and the children’s friends to go along, even if they treat it like a wee memorial to Aaron, but to go along tomorrow night,” she said.

“Even if it makes one more person stop and think, it’s worth it as a moment of madness can mean a lifetime of grief.”