NI woman's tribute to dad after sudden death sent shockwaves through family

A Co Antrim woman has embarked on a mental health awareness bid in memory of her father who died suddenly.

Rachel McMullan lost her dad to suicide in July 2022, and now she wants to do what she can to highlight the importance of speaking out, and breaking the taboo of mental health.

The 28-year-old, from the North Coast area, has been training for the Belfast City Marathon next month, in memory of her father Alistair McMullan, who was 53 when he died.

Read more: NI family on heartbreak of losing devoted husband and dad to suicide

Read more: NI dad opens up on recovery from drug abuse that started at 12

Speaking to Belfast Live about the shock felt by the family after Alistair's death, Rachel says they had no idea their daddy was struggling.

"The key point I want to highlight is actually the key quote from Zachary Geddis Break the Silence Trust, which is the charity I am raising money for, and that is that not all wounds are visible," she said.

"The charity was set up by a family who has also personally been affected by suicide, and I have been inspired by the work they have done regarding mental health awareness in our local community

"In our eyes, daddy was always happy. We never would have saw him upset. Daddy didn't come across as someone who was depressed, or someone who needed somebody to talk to. That is why I think it is so important to raise this awareness.

"Daddy's death was totally unexpected. To us, he had good mental health, but behind that, he actually didn't, and we didn't know that."

After Rachel's father's death, she began to follow the Zachary Geddis Trust more closely, and become more inspired by the charitable work they do. Zachary Geddis died suddenly in 2017 and The Zachary Geddis Break the Silence Trust (ZGBTST) was launched in October 2017 on what would have been Zachary’s 21st Birthday.

Their website reads: "After losing Zachary six months previously, we were left behind devastated and broken, frantically trying to understand how and why this had happened. How did things get so bad? Why was this the only answer?

"Soon it was made clear that increased mental health provision was required across Northern Ireland to help other individuals struggling every day to inspire them to, reach out, obtain understanding and fight for the right to support.

"Starting as a small advocacy and campaigning organisation in 2017, ZGBTST has grown through the ever-changing needs of the community in which it serves.

"From a one-woman band in the spare room of her apartment to a fully operational six office space mental health centre, its been a journey that has had great highs and even greater lows.

"With over 200 weekly clients obtaining support within our multi-pillar system designed to treat everyone as an individual and educate the community in real mental health ZGBTST has become a relied-on and trusted community service.

"Every client who walks through our doors is assessed independently, creating a unique well-being plan to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals.

"ZGBTST aims to make a difference, not only within the services that are requested by the community but also to advocate for change within the current mental health system, continue to break the silence on mental health issues and share our personal experiences, thoughts and recommendations for a better future."

Rachel has raised over £2,500 for the Trust so far, and will take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles on May 5, across Belfast City Centre. She told Belfast Live that the support she has received has been overwhelming.

"I set the target of £2,600 kind of with the idea to raise £100 per mile, you know, 26 miles of a marathon. I am so close to that target now, which is just amazing. I am really overwhelmed with the support, and I think that does just show, that this topic is so personal to so many people.

"Honestly, I didn't expect to get anywhere close to the target, so I am really pleased and it is amazing because I know how much this will mean to the charity."

Rachel says while they are a close-knit family, mental health can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender or status. Their family has sadly learned that through the most heartbreaking way.

"It doesn't matter what a person's background is, what their experience is, the level of support they even might have around them," she added.

"It is just so important to talk. Our family are really open to talking, and we're there to support each other, but daddy obviously still felt like he couldn't reach out, so it is about breaking that stigma, that it's actually OK to have poor mental health and just talk to someone."

Please click this link to donate to Rachel's fundraiser.

Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE anytime from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email or visit to find details of your nearest branch.

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here.