A priest from the Clogher Diocese who is part of the ministry team at Lough Derg has extended an invitation to the people of Derry to attend a ‘Living with Suicide’ retreat on the island.
Father Cathal Deery, who is the spiritual director for the event which is now in its third year, said the day is open to anyone bereaved by suicide, or anyone affected directly or indirectly by suicide.
“Each year we welcome people at Lough Derg,” said Father Deery, “People of faith and people of no faith, people struggling with their faith or haven’t practised their faith in a long time.
“Suicide touches everybody regardless of whether you have faith or not. It is no respecter of age, gender, background, class or religious denomination.”
Father Deery, who is the diocesan resource person on suicide said that those who attended the retreat in previous years felt “greatly supported.”
“We felt that Lough Derg, being the sort of place it is, offering hope and healing, it would be a good thing to try and do something on the area of suicide awareness and prevention, offering support for those affected directly and indirectly by suicide.
“It is a retreat day because we have prayer but it’s not a hugely prayerful day in the sense of formal structured prayer. People will have the opportunity to share their thoughts, have time for personal reflection on the island and hopefully people will go home feeling a little bit better than when they arrived.”
He said that much has been done and continues to be done to change attitudes and perception and help people’s understanding of suicide.
“Every time someone ends their life we think, have we failed? That’s the sad reality. No matter how much is done either collectively or for one individual, if that individual after a lot of help and support, still ends their own life we think - have we failed or have we done enough? But we can never fully understand the human mind, that’s the reality.”
Father Deery said the issue of blame is often one that comes up at the retreat,
“The question of why is one that we have all asked and shared. Why did this happen? Why did she do this? Why did he take his own life? Why did he do this to me? Questions that will probably never adequately be answered.
“By asking the question we wonder did we miss something, we ask why we didn’t see the signs, we remember a row. “Blame is always there in our reaction to a suicide. We look at ourselves and ask where we went wrong.
“I would like to think that a lot of that blame will eventually be lifted through support and working through some of the issues. There is no doubt that eventually people can move beyond the blame.”
The Living with Suicide day, which will be held on September 23 is aimed anyone affected by suicide, bereaved by suicide, working in the area of suicide awareness and prevention, those working in schools, clergy working in parishes, or those in emergency medicine.
In previous years up to 120 have attended.
Speakers on the day will include Angela Hayes who will share her own personal story on being bereaved by suicide, Reverend Mervyn Ewing who represents the Methodist Church on the steering group Flourish and Father Cathal.
To find out more and/or to book (booking essential) please contact the Lough Derg office and speak to Maureen or Sharon on 00353 71 9861518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org