A 15-year-old student hugged his mother and said he loved her minutes before he took his own life an inquest has heard.
Erne Integrated College pupil Joshua Gallagher from Carran Mews, Enniskillen died on October 15, 2012 as the result of a shotgun wound to his chest.
Speaking at an inquest at Enniskillen Courthouse into her son’s death Jennifer Gallagher described Joshua as a ‘soft-hearted’, ‘sensitive young man’, but one who suffered from low self-esteem and struggled with confidence.
She explained how on the evening of October 15 at 4pm Joshua returned home from school and was not in great humour. When she asked what was wrong her son replied: “Anything that could have happened, happened, it was just one of those days.” He then went on to the computer and obstructed his mother’s view with the clothes horse. His mother told the inquest she knew something was wrong and later a report from the police computer investigation branch revealed Joshua had searched ‘how to kill yourself’ , ‘quick and efficient ways to kill yourself’ and had visited websites with such information. After 5.30pm he went upstairs, giving his mother a big hug and said he wanted to check on something and when called, told her he would be ‘down in a minute’. Joshua then shouted down: “You know I love you” and “Mummy you know I really do love you”. Mrs Gallagher then reported hearing a loud bang. She went upstairs to find her son lying on his back with a hole in his chest, without a pulse and not breathing.
She noted two green coloured cartridges on the floor, along with a shot gun, normally kept in a locked gun cabinet in an upstairs room in the house.
Joshua Gallagher had previously been treated at the child and adolescent unit for problems with low-self esteem and confidence and it was noted in court by clinical nurse Michael Gallogly that on two occasions the deceased expressed thoughts of taking his own life and on one previous occasion held a knife to his throat stating he wished ‘it would all end’. He was referred back to the service on October, a week before he died.
Mrs Gallagher told the inquest she still had unanswered questions and said her son’s mental state had been the result of bullying in school, but that he never spoke up, instead calling it ‘banter’. She mentioned on one occasion how Joshua was stabbed with a pen through his uniform penetrating the skin.
Coroner James Kitson said that Joshua was clearly a “delightful young man” who had a stong relationship with his mother and brother Andrew. He reflected on the difficulties in the life of young Joshua.
“It’s quite clear that Josh perceived himself as the ‘bottom of the pecking order’, quite what that meant in his head and what was causing that is only something we can largely guess, but it appears there were issues within his peer group.”
In referring directly to his death the coroner said the actions were taken when the balance of the deceased’s mind was ‘temporarily upset’.
The coroner added: “He was clearly a lovely young fellow and his loss in such tragic circumstances is simply a tragedy.”
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