Second teenage suicide shocks Ulster town

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A SMALL community in Northern Ireland was yesterday struggling to come to terms with the second teenage suicide within a week after a girl was found dead with a gunshot wound.

Elaine Trainor, 14, was found in her bedroom with a legally-held weapon lying near by. Only a week earlier a school friend, Aidan Shelvin, 16, died in similar circumstances at his home a few hundred yards away. He died a few days before he was due to start his GCSE examinations.

Both were Roman Catholics who lived on the Aghadarragh Road near the quiet town of Augher, Co Tyrone. Local people said yesterday that the teenagers were close friends but were not known to be romantically attached. They frequented the same youth club.

Last week Aidan's funeral was a harrowing occasion for the closely-knit community, with hundreds of people weeping. An honour guard of 70 youngsters from Saint Macartan's youth club were all in tears. The town now faces a second such ordeal.

Damian Donnelly, one of the club's organisers, said Elaine and everyone else had been very upset at Aidan's death, but added that there had been no indication that she was at risk.

Elaine was described as a lively, outgoing girl who played in the local ladies' Gaelic football team. One of five children, she attended discos and other activities at the youth club. Aidan was said to be a talented Gaelic footballer.

Last year, in another part of Tyrone, a 20-year-old university student, Julie Statham, took her own life a month after her fiance was shot dead by loyalist gunmen. Her mother Chris helped raise funds for a bereavement counselling centre in Tyrone after her death.

According to the Samaritans in Belfast, the Northern Ireland suicide rate, at about 12 per 100,000, is higher than the British rate of about 10 per 100,000. About 135 people took their own lives in the province last year, up to a quarter of them under the age 25.