Northern Ireland

Belfast mother's warning over 'legal highs' after son's death

Media captionBBC Newsline's Tara Mills has been speaking to Tracy Carnahan, the mother of Sean Paul Carnahan.

The mother of a west Belfast man who died after taking what are called "legal highs" has published a picture of him in intensive care to warn others of the dangers of taking such drugs.

Sean Paul Carnahan, 22, died just over a week ago.

His mother Tracy said after he took the drugs his personality began to change.

She said he made a number of suicide attempts, with one of them resulting in him being "severely brain damaged".

She said she was told a few days after the incident that her son had taken a substance known as "China White", that is readily available in certain shops.

"I have been receiving emails from other parents whose children, maybe some as young as 15 or 16, are constantly on that stuff and they don't know what to do," she added.

"They have been told by the police that nothing can be done because it is legal."

Her message to those taking "legal highs" was not to touch them.

"You wouldn't want to be left the way Sean Paul was left or you wouldn't want to put your parents through what we are going through now," she said.

"Our lives are never going to be the same.

"The kids are just devastated, the whole area is devastated.

"I only hope that a lot of those kids now realise what Sean Paul went through and what we have been through and that none of them go near that shop.

"I personally believe if it wasn't so easy to buy, that wouldn't have happened to Sean Paul."

Legal highs are substances which produce the same, or similar effects, to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

In many cases, they are designed to mimic class A drugs, but are structurally different enough to avoid being classified as illegal substances, so it is legal to possess and use them.