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Portadown mum to host Autism Hive NI conference following sudden death of her son Luke

The Portadown man, Luke O’Hara, had been living independently for some 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 Luke was an ‘incredibly bright and loving child who just viewed life slightly differently to how we did’.

Portadown mum Julia McKeever to host Autism Hive NI conference following the sudden death of her son Luke O’Hara.

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She said: “On the 25th February 2021, my whole life fell apart when sadly we discovered my son had died through suicide.

“Life would never be the same again for me, but that’s where the ball got rolling.

Portadown man, Luke O’Hara, who died suddenly last year. His mother Julia McKeever is hosting an Autism Hive NI conference in the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown.

“I was determined to make changes and raise awareness, so that no other mother would have to suffer like I have losing my son. The Autism Hive NI was born.

“We hope to raise awareness of suicide within autism and mental health issues within autism, as well as develop and deliver courses and education in work and schools arenas.”

The Autism Hive NI is focussed particularly those aged 13 and above.

Julia said: “Following the loss of my own son, I was shocked to learn that one in four autistic youths experience suicidal thoughts, and one in 10 actually attempt suicide.”

Next month, Thursday October 6, Austism Hive NI is hosting its inaugural conference at the Seagoe Hotel, Portadown, from 10am-4pm.

Speakers will include Julia as well as Dr Siobhan O’Neill, the mental health champion for Northern Ireland, 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 to the autistic community, as well as highlighting the support we require in our dedication to delivering adequate suicide postvention support.”

Other guest speakers include MLA Robbie Butler and Rebecca McCullough.

Stalls will include guests from Papyrus, Learning Space, Eden Consultancy, Christians Against Poverty, Inspire and AMH New Horizons and more.There will be representatives from secondary and primary schools in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon areas as well as local politicians.The conference is open to all with tickets booked through eventbrite

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