Mother who lost two sons now helps support others

By Brendan Grehan

A LUCAN mother who lost both of her sons to suicide has decided to fight back against the phenomenon.

Karen Docherty lost her two sons within two years of each other. Now she speaks to groups of parents in schools to highlight the warning signs of suicide.

Stephen Murray Karen Docherty Rachel Murray and Graham Murray

Stephen Murray, Karen Docherty, Rachel Murray and Graham Murray

Karen told The Echo: “I think there should be mental health awareness classes in all schools. It should be taught as a subject.”

Her oldest son Stephen Murray was just 30 when he took his life in June 2015, while her youngest son Graham had just turned 22 when he died by suicide just last November.

Karen said: “Stephen was just 15 when he started smoking weed. He didn’t go to school for two weeks and was down in a park smoking weed with his friends.

"The school didn’t tell me that he wasn’t going to school. They didn’t want to get a reputation for drugs. By 17, he was taking heroin.”

Despite his drug addiction, Stephen always held down a job and he went into rehab a number of times.

Karen said: “In his last four years he was in treatment four times. Everytime he relapsed. The last time he relapsed, he relapsed very badly. He was taking heroin and smoking crack.

"He was doing really well, but got in with people who weren’t going to add anything to his life and I think he thought there was no way forward for him, that his life was unsustainable.

"He had left a note, so I knew he had planned his death.”

Affected every part of his life

After Stephen’s passing, Karen found journals belonging to him. The journals told of his addiction and how it had affected every part of his life.

While she was grieving for Stephen, Karen was hit with another hammer blow. A blow that a parent should never have to face even once but not twice.

She found her youngest son Graham dead only a few hours after they had last talked and he had told her that he was feeling ill after taking cannabis the previous weekend.

Graham was due to be conferred with a degree in software engineering but was buried on the day of his conferral.

Karen said: “Graham had put Stephen out of the house before he died and I think he blamed himself for Stephen’s death. He never dealt with this.”

She added: “He became agitated the weekend of his birthday and admitted that he’d been smoking weed. I got angry with him and then felt guilty, so I went upstairs and got in the bed beside him and we talked about everything for two hours.

"There was no indication that he was even considering suicide.”

The next day, Graham went back to his apartment but rang his mum at lunchtime.

Karen said: “I told him to take a load of water and I’d ring him in a half hour but I fell asleep and when I woke up, there were two missed calls from him.”

She knew instantly that he was gone. He had left no note.

Fight back

While dealing with her grief, Karen has decided to fight back.

She has got together with Paula O’Connor, a teacher who has a programme called “Don’t be mean behind your screen”.

Paula talks to pupils about cyber bullying and Karen talks to parents about mental health among the young and suicide.

If a group wants Karen to come to talk to them she can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have been affected by this piece, contact HOPE Tallaght on 087 136 3082, Samaritans on 116 123, or Pieta House in Ballyfermot on 01-6235606 or in Lucan at  01-6010000.

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