Families and friends of people lost through suicide throughout the country came together yesterday (Sunday) at a series of Christmas Celebrations of Light organised by national suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console.
The ceremonies of song, music, poetry and reflection took place in Cork, Limerick, Wexford and Galway and included the lighting of candles and a minute’s silence to remember those who have lost their lives.
Further celebrations are planned for Maynooth and Swinford Co Mayo on Sunday December 9, with up to 5,000 people expected to attend overall.
At least 500 people lost their lives to suicide in Ireland last year – with the real figure being higher according to Console.
“The Christmas Celebration of Light provides a gentle and understanding environment for families and friends to remember their loved ones and celebrate their lives,” said Console founder and CEO Paul Kelly.
“The loss of a loved one is always devastating, but when that loss is through suicide it can be so much harder for the families and friends left behind.
“This special service is one of the most important events in the Console calendar as it gives families and friends the opportunity to come together in solidarity to honour the lives of their loved ones,” said Paul, who founded the organisation after his sister Sharon took her own life at the age of 21.
Console offers counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide.
The charity operates full-time centres in Dublin, Cork, Wexford, Limerick, and Galway and also offers services into Mayo, Kildare, and other areas of Dublin such as Tallaght and Clondalkin.
Counselling is available for any individual, couples, families or children who have been affected by suicide.