Northern Ireland

Belfast: Seven suspected drugs deaths in 10 days

Heroin paraphernalia

It is feared that up to seven people have died from drugs overdoses in Northern Ireland in just 10 days.

Aaron Connor, 21, was found unconscious in the toilets of a café in the city centre on 16 November. His family say he had taken a heroin overdose.

His father, Christopher, told BBC News NI that drug use is a growing issue across the city and will destroy families across Northern Ireland.

"Drugs have ruined our family - it's ripped our family apart," he said.

Image caption Aaron Connor's family say he died of a heroin overdose

"That was the hardest thing I've had to do - telling my wife that our baby, our son, was dead," he said.

"My wife is broken. She can't sleep, she's crying, and I feel useless because I can't mend my wife."

Last weekend, the Public Health Agency issued a warning to agencies saying that five people died from a suspected drug overdose in just two days across Belfast.

In a statement it said: "While it is not known at this stage what, if any, substances had been taken, it is believed that the individuals may have taken heroin and, in some circumstances, poly drug use."

But since that warning was issued, it is believed that another two have people died after taking heroin, bringing the total number of deaths to seven.

Image caption Councillor Paul McCusker said there needs to be more support for people

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker has called for more support to tackle the problem.

"We're continuing to see the increase and quite often the support is not there," he said.

"We need early intervention, prevention, programmes, harm reduction models and we need to look at how we're doing things at the moment because it clearly isn't working for people who are suffering from addictions.

"When we see people dying, it's just not acceptable."

Image caption Christopher Connor says drugs have "ruined" his family

For Aaron's family and the six others, their families are left to pick up the pieces after their deaths.

"As a family, this is tough and there are other families going through the exact same thing as us," said Mr Connor.

"My prayers are with them because this is so cruel."

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