A brave Tyrone woman has shared details of her personal battle with suicide in the hope she can help others facing the same ordeal.
Nicole Devlin, who’s from Edendork but now lives in Belfast, said she has suffered from overwhelming thoughts that the world would be better off without her since she was a teenager.
Now 29, the self titled ‘suicide attempt survivor’ has spent years in hospital after numerous attempts to end her life, three of which came very close.
But the inspiring young woman has turned her life around and is speaking out to raise awareness of suicide and help break the taboos around mental illness.
“I have had a mental illness for over 10-12 years,” she explained, adding, “I would like to call myself a suicide attempt survivor because I survived it.
“I have been silent for such a long time,” she went on, “and I think the more people talk about it, the more people will think that it’s ok.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are afraid to talk about their feelings and talk to others.
“I did attempt suicide,” she continued, “and I attempted it many times. Three times it came very close for me - I was very very ill.
“I struggled at secondary school and at school there was no help at all. It was put down as bad behaviour - it was almost like it was a sin to be mentally unwell.
“I was feeling worthless, I was feeling hopeless. I believed that the world and everybody would have been better off without me.
“That’s the way a lot of people would be feeling if they’re in that position.”
But Nicole said she now has a “message of hope”, which she will be delivering at the Mid Ulster Walk of Hope.
“Something that has helped me, because I have been stable now [for] 18 months, is that there’s always something else to happen.
“If you’re having a really bad day it’s not permanent. Even a good day never stays the same. One minute it’s sunny, then the next it’s rain.”
Her advice for others who suffer thoughts like the ones she has described is to “let your family and your friends know, I think that’s the first step”.
Asked when life started to improve for her, Nicole said: “I spent a number of years in hospital and just one way day I woke up in hospital and couldn’t continue because I was putting my whole body and myself through hell - and I just didn’t want to be continuously in pain.
“I wanted to live and I knew that there was a life for me and that I deserved to be happy.”
Nicole is now back at college studying psychology after finishing a diploma in counselling.
And the brave survivor now wants to use her experiences and new qualifications to help others who are going through similar situations.
“The best people that can help is someone who has that kind of empathy and has an idea of what you have gone through,” she added.
Nicole has been invited to talk at this Sunday’s Walk of Hope in Cookstown which has been organised for the third year running by the Beacon Centre.
The walk will leave Holy Trinity College carpark at 4.30pm to go to the Christmas tree at the town centre where there will be a remembrance service, a choir and the tree of hope.
The aim of the walk is to remember all people who are affected by suicide and loss at Christmas and all year round.
Participants are asked to bring along a symbol of hope, love or something to help them remember someone they might have lost.
After the service there will be refreshments and support available if you need it at Derryloran parish hall.