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'I got this gut feeling things weren't right': Father wants limits on cheap drink after son died by suicide

John Higgins believes the amount of alcohol people can buy for €15 is a huge problem.

Image: Ray D'Arcy via RTE

JOHN HIGGINS WHOSE son David died by suicide in 2011 says cheap alcohol is causing many problems for families around the country.

Speaking to The Ray D’Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 John described how David’s death recorded a verdict of death by suicide, with alcohol a contributory factor.

John said David lost his way and would binge drink. He described waiting for his son to come home in the evenings:

When he’d go out at night, I’d get a knot in my stomach. I’d sit in the armchair and I’d have the blind on the window up maybe eight or nine inches and I’d watch the gate… I’d sit there and watch the gate to see his feet coming in the gate, and once they did I was happy.

The night David took his life, John told D’Arcy that before his son went out he went to speak to him to offer him a word of caution, but before he did David said he knew ‘to be careful’.

I got this gut feeling, and I said things are not right. I got up and I rang him, and he answered the phone and he was sobbing. He was crying, I knew he was in bother then, I tried to get him to tell me where he was but he just couldn’t tell me.

David went into the river Moy, his phone was left on the bridge, but he wasn’t found immediately.

Ten days into the search, they received a call to say a body had been found. A friend of John’s had drowned in the river while searching for David. Speaking about Tommy, the man who drowned, John said:

Tommy made a bad decision, he went off on his own at night, and he shouldn’t have. Tommy was the best in the world, a lovely fella.

John believes the amount of alcohol people can buy for €15 is a huge problem and wants to see something being done about the sale of cheap alcohol.

If something is dear, people will buy less of it, it’s ridiculous.

“They’re all sold as loss leaders. It’s just to get footfall in and they really aren’t loss leaders because a loss leader brings people in to the store to buy other items, they’re not.”

Higgins feels very strongly about the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which will see minimum unit pricing coming in.

“I know it’s about alcohol, but it’s about public health first and foremost… all parties should be united on this bill, I cannot see why they’re not.

It’s time people started to kick back… people would say to me, well now David has to accept some of the responsibility, probably has yeah but do the people that sell the alcohol not have to have some of the responsibility, can you just sell it and take the profit and let them out the door and not worry about them.

John told Ray that parents should remember the day their children were born, they should never have to remember the day they die. He believes that if David never drank, he’d still be alive.


Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud

Read: Members of Eighth Amendment Committee receive letter warning of ‘excommunication’>

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