The artist behind a Suicide Prevention Project on the Peace Bridge has urged others to leave messages of support for those who may be facing a crisis.
Luna Kalo, an actor who recently moved to Derry, said she took the decision to hang written messages along with colourful streamers along the bridge in the belief that little things can make a big difference.
Luna Kalo came up with the idea as the city tried to grapple with a succession of tragedies, and after consulting with health professionals.
She said: “Human decisions are subtle, complex and difficult to understand and therefore there is no quick fix solution to this. The stigma around mental health and suicide is most definitely counter-productive. Let’s just start a conversation about suicide as a society, without blame, judgment or guilt.
“It is time for us to create a different kind of ritual, not for the dead, but for the living, and those who have been left behind. On the Peace Bridge, I have begun a different kind of suicide prevention project, inspired by daily rituals in Bali, where the inhabitants leave offerings, flowers and food for the loved ones who have passed away. I decorated a small section of the bridge with recycled ribbons from the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and I have begun leaving little offerings for the living who are contemplating suicide.”
One of the waterproof laminated note reads: “Please don’t leave us – if we lose you, our city will loose a little part of its soul.”
Luna Kalo said she wanted to invite local people to write a postcard and tie it to a ribbon on the peace-bridge.
“This is a collective think tank about suicide. Every idea counts. Please share your thoughts about what helps you on the Peace Bridge. You never know who might be reading. One little thought, a phrase, an action can be enough to make all the difference.
She added that people collectively “can talk, look out for each other” and in doing so reverse what has been happening “one thought, one conversation, one action at a time”.
*The Lifeline helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Anyone of any age living in the north can call Lifeline 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.
Luna has created a short film on suicide prevention which can be accessed via: www.lunakalo.wordpress.com/film/ or via Twitter: @KaloLuna