Double Tragedy As Second Westport Boy Dies

Gardaí said foul play is not suspected in either of two tragic deaths associated with a Co Mayo school.

After the body of 15-year-old Michael Hopkins was found in an empty town building yesterday evening, special counsellors have begun working with other teenagers at the school in the Co Mayo town of Westport.

This latest death comes a week after a fellow pupil took his own life. Dylan Beirne, also 15, was found dead at Rice College in the popular holiday resort just over a week ago after his parents reported him missing the night before.

Frank McCarrick, who retired as Principal of Rice College before Christmas, acting as school spokesman, said everybody at the school was devastated.

"People are stricken with grief and very numbed at this, the second incident of this nature within 10 days of the other," Mr McCarrick said.

"There's a great sense of deep shock and grief in the school and the community. The whole community of Westport has been stunned."

Dylan took his own life late on Sunday February 17 and Michael was found dead yesterday evening just before 5pm.

There has been no suggestion that the two deaths are linked.

"We are not in any way establishing any link whatsoever between the two deaths. It is unfortunate that the two deaths have occurred," Mr McCarrick said.

Counsellors from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), who were already offering services to pupils in the boys-only school following Dylan’s death, are now dealing with teenagers following the second death.

Local volunteers involved in counselling work in the Westport area and dozens of parents have also spent the day at the school.

The school, which closed for classes on the day of Dylan's funeral last Wednesday, is to shut down for Michael’s funeral later this week.


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