Derry and Limavady will host events over the coming weeks for local people who have lost loved ones to suicide.
The Northwest Bereaved by Suicide Support Group will their annual ‘Memory Tree of Lights’ ceremony on Sunday, December 4 at 5.30pm in the Guildhall.
Roe Valley Bereaved By Suicide Support Group will hold their event on Sunday, December 11 at 5.30pm in the Wellness Centre, Limavady.
The events are being 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.
The events are supported by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), Be Safe Be Well, The Big Lottery, The Public Health Agency, Salvation Army, Wellness Centre and Foyle Search and Rescue.
The 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 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.”
She added: “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 71320138 or Mobile: 07841569000.