Ceremonies to remember local people who died by suicide

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The Northwest and Roe Valley Bereaved by Suicide Support Groups will hold their annual ‘Memory Tree of Lights’ ceremonies next month.

The Northwest group will hold their event on Sunday December 3 at 5.30pm in Foyle Search and Rescue Headquarters at Prehen.

The Roe Valley Bereaved By Suicide Support Group meanwhile will hold their event on Sunday, December 17 at 5.30pm in the Body, Mind and Soul Centre, 101 Irish Green Street, Limavady.

The events are held to remember loved ones lost to suicide and to support family and friends during the holiday season, which can be an especially difficult time.

Both ceremonies are supported by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), CLEAR, The Big Lottery, The Public Health Agency, Salvation Army, Body, Mind and Soul Centre and Foyle Search and Rescue.

The simple ceremony involves members of the Support Group reading some poetry and prayers, which have particular significance to them and music will be provided.

Family and friends will be invited to take part in a candlelight ceremony and to leave a message to their loved one on the Christmas tree.

Fidelis Simpson, Suicide Liaison Officer for the Western Trust said: “We recognise how devastating a death by suicide can be but we believe by coming together with others bereaved by suicide this can offer hope and support.”

Fidelis continued: “When someone dies by suicide many people are affected; families, friends and work colleagues, but all too often no one gets the opportunity to talk about how they feel.

“The journey for those left behind after the loss of a loved one can be excruciatingly painful, devastating and traumatic.

“Many people who have been bereaved in this way have sought and benefitted from a support group. Evidence shows that support groups are a powerful and constructive way for people to help both themselves and others.

“Grief associated with bereavement by suicide is unique. The coming together of those similarly bereaved, regardless of when the death occurred, can provide the opportunity to be with other people who can really understand.

“They have been through the same experience and can offer the opportunity to gain strength and understanding from the individuals within the group.”

The event originated in the USA and has been replicated throughout Ireland within towns and communities affected by suicide.

The Northwest Bereaved by Suicide Support Group meets the first and third Monday of the month in Foyle Search and Rescue Headquarters at 7.30pm and the Roe Valley Bereaved by Suicide Support Group meets the second Tuesday of each month in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre at 7.30pm.

For more information, contact Fidelis Simpson, Suicide Liaison Officer for the Western Trust on Tel: (028) 028 71 320 138 or Mobile: 07841569000.

*The Lifeline helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day. Anyone of any age living in the North can call the Lifeline helpline for free on 0808 808 8000 if they are experiencing distress or despair. At Lifeline you can talk to a professionally trained counsellor who will listen, give help and support, in confidence.