A YOUNG man driven to attempt to take his own life at the weekend after using the legal high Mephedrone has warned others "don't touch the stuff".
The 20-year-old from north Down, who wishes to remain anonymous, was saved from killing himself by a local youth worker who had to break down the door of his home to talk him out of harming himself.
The Bangor man, who began using Mephedrone around four months ago, was taking the drug up to four times a day when he began to suffer serious bouts of depression.
He told the News Letter: "Coming down off Meph you just feel really, really depressed. You don't care anymore and you're just constantly thinking that there's no point in being here.
"The only way to make you feel better is to take more Meph, or just not be here at all."
He said of taking the substance, which is said to produce effects such as increased energy, confidence and euphoria: "When I was told about Meph, and that it was legal, I thought 'happy days'. I couldn't believe how cheap it was," he said.
"Taking it just gives a constant hit, but it's so addictive."
He added: "It's too easy to get. If you can't get it at a shop, then you know someone who's selling it. It's just everywhere. Even if you want to get off it, it's just everywhere around you."
Speaking of how his Meph addiction has changed his life, he said: "If someone hadn't got to me on Saturday I wouldn't be here now. I would have killed myself.
"When I look back about a year ago I was a laid back, easy going kind of guy, it's not like that any more.
"Every time I think good thoughts, they're blocked out by more bad ones. I was always all right until I started taking Meph."
Even sober, the young man still has thoughts of taking his own life. Appealing to others not to take the drug, he said: "Just don't take it, don't go near the stuff. And if you have started taking it, then get the help and get off it. It really helps to talk things through with people, too."
It was announced earlier this week that the drug, and other legal highs similar to it, will be outlawed and categorised as Class B by the end of this month.
Last week, a News Letter reporter was able to buy a gramme of Mephedrone for £30 over the counter in a Belfast city centre shop.
The Bangor man said: "Banning Meph might help for a while, but sellers are stockpiling it and once that's gone, something else will take its place."
The man who stopped the 20-year-old from killing himself, youth cohesion project manager Jamie Bryson, said in the last two weeks alone there had been three attempted suicides and one death in Bangor attributed to Mephedrone.
Schoolboy Jamie McKee took his own life in the town just days before it was announced the drug was to be banned.
The 17-year-old's parents believe Mephedrone played a part in his death. They said that they had "little doubt" the drug played a "major role" in their son's suicide. His funeral took place on Wednesday.
Mr Bryson told the News Letter: "If I hadn't kicked that door in on Saturday, we would have been burying someone else today, and that's down to Mephedrone.
This isn’t just happening in Bangor, it’s everywhere.”
He said legal highs are prolific throughout the Province: “It’s not just shops, people are selling this on the streets. I would say as much as 95 per cent of Meph comes from dealers.
“They’re buying it off the internet for 13 pence a gramme and selling it on for £35.”
Urging people to stop selling the drug, he added: “The people selling this are hurting young people and causing them to die, it’s as simple as that. They must stop what they’re doing, they’re making money from killing people.”
Mark Gordon, community development manager of Kilcooley Community Forum, said more services need to be available for people trying to deal with drug addiction.
“People talk about there being lots of resources available; that’s fine if you take drugs Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, but if you need someone outside office hours, it can be very difficult for people to get assistance when they need it most,” he said.
“Resources must be invested in grassroots services, with people funded to offer proper crisis intervention.”
By Sara Girvin
April 3, 2010
'Mephedrone ruined my life'