The Portadown man, Luke O’Hara, had been living independently for a few months when the pandemic struck, but sadly his family found him dead in February last year.
Julia, who is running a conference on suicide within autism and other mental health issues within autism, says that Luke was an “incredibly bright and loving child who saw life a little differently than we do.” How do you do it?
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She said: “On 25 February 2021, my whole life was shattered when we were saddened that my son had died due to suicide.
“Life will never be the same again for me, but that’s where the ball got rolling.
“I was determined to make a change and raise awareness so that no other mother would suffer like losing my son. The autism hive was born NI.
“We hope to develop and deliver curricula and education in the areas of work and schools, as well as raising awareness of mental health issues within autism and suicide within autism.”
Autism Hive NI is specifically focused on people 13 years of age and older.
Julia said: “After the loss of my own son, I was shocked to learn that one in four autistic youth experiences suicidal ideation, and one in 10 actually attempts suicide.”
Next month, Thursday 6 October, Autism Hive NI is hosting its inaugural conference at Portadown’s Seago Hotel from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Speakers will include Julia as well as Northern Ireland mental health champion Dr Siobhan O’Neill and Andy Hazley (Learning Space).
Julia said: “We will demonstrate the need for a dedicated, specific, and tailored training rollout and implementation of strategic mental health services for the autistic community, as well as highlighting the support needed in our dedication to delivering adequate suicide postvention support. “
Other guest speakers include legislators Robbie Butler and Rebecca McCullough.
Stalls will feature guests from Papyrus, Learning Spaces, Eden Consultancy, Christian Against Poverty, Inspire and AMH New Horizons and more. There will be representatives from secondary and primary schools from the Armagh, Bainbridge and Craigavon areas, as well as local politicians. The conference is open to all with tickets booked through Eventbrite