The Atlantic

Suicide Among the Ceasefire Babies

In the years following the Troubles, a period of intense violence in Northern Ireland, young people have been killing themselves in alarming numbers.
Source: Dave Caulkin / AP

I grew up just off Belfast’s Murder Mile, a stretch so called because of the number of casualties there during the Troubles, the decades-long conflict over the status of Northern Ireland. The wider area  around the Mile was known as the Murder Triangle for the same reason. Just streets away from my family’s house, it wasn’t uncommon for loyalist paramilitaries to drive around, single out a target, and pull the trigger.

The Good Friday Agreement, a key part of the peace process that ended the Troubles, was signed when I was 8 years old. But even the bloodshed of my childhood hadn’t left me prepared for the news, a decade after peace began, that my friend Jonny had killed himself at age 17. My friend Mick delivered the news—he’d heard from Jonny’s stepfather that his body had been discovered on the grounds of the mental institution where he’d been staying after a previous suicide attempt.

I don’t remember much of what happened Mick told me, other than walking upstairs, kicking something in the bathroom, and cursing Jonny for dying.

* * *

Jonny, Mick, and I were members of the generation nicknamed the Ceasefire Babies—those of us too young to remember the worst of the terror. We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, spared from the horrors of war. But still, the aftereffects of those horrors seemed to follow us.

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