Belfast mum who lost daughter to drugs has already planned son's funeral

Lisa Arthurs says she has already planned her son's funeral.

A Belfast mother who lost her daughter to drugs fears losing her son in similar circumstances, so much so that she has planned his funeral in her mind.

UTV, as part of a special investigation, joined staff from the Welcome Organisation who spend nights on the streets of Belfast helping the homeless and those who struggle with drug dependency.

Since June, 15 people have died on the city’s streets from drug-related causes. Since the start of the year, 34 people have lost their lives to drugs in Belfast.As part of the investigation, UTV met some of the families whose loved ones have died as well as the loved ones of those who struggle with drug dependency.

Lisa Arthurs' daughter Gabrielle Connolly died in a drug-related incident in July 2020. She had just turned 18-years-old. 

Her son Thomas, who is addicted to a mix of drugs, lives in a hostel.

"My biggest fear is getting a phone call to say that Thomas is dead," she told UTV.

Lisa Arthurs says "the drug has the power" in her son's life.

Another family hit by tragedy has also spoken out.

Demi Corry was found dead in a Belfast city centre park last month. The mum-of-two died from a suspected drugs overdose.

Her sister Shona Fleming and stepfather Mark Lippiatt don't believe Demi got adequate help.

Shona said: "Just knowing she was lying at that chair or the seat."

Mark added: "It just makes you feel numb, completely numb. Not knowing if anybody was with her.

"It should have been our own NHS that should have stepped up."

The Department of Health has said it has various programmes and treatments available for those suffering.

The Public Health Agency has a range of services offering support for addiction. To find a service near you visit https://drugsandalcoholni.info/Mental health crisis helpline Lifeline can be contacted on 0808 808 8000.

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