Hundreds of people are expected to take part in a special dawn walk to remember loved ones lost to suicide this weekend. The annual Out of the Darkness Into the Light walk takes place this Saturday (September 10, 5am) and coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day.
The morning walk will be the first in a series of events to mark the day by a range of local mental health charities. At 12.30pm local suicide awareness group PIPS Programmes are hosting an Action 4 Change rally at the City Hall to call for urgent government intervention to help stop the alarming rate of suicides in the North - in the past month alone four men have taken their own lives in North Belfast.
Then at 7pm there will be a Mass at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne to remember those who have died.
The day will end with a poignant Chinese lantern event when people who have lost loved ones are asked to light a lantern in their memory and set in into the night sky at 10pm. Anyone is welcome to get involved in the Light Up The Sky event and participants are asked to set off their lantern from their own homes or a place special to them.
The early morning walk leaves from various locations across the city at 5am for a gathering at the City Hall at 6am where there will be a service of reflection and hope.
The main walk will be from Ardoyne in North Belfast leaving from the top of Estoril Park at 5am and stopping on Oldpark Avenue, Manor Street and the New Lodge Road.
Gerard McCartan from PIPS Programmes said the walk will be a special time of reflection and solidarity for the families and friends of people who have lost loved ones to suicide.
“Too many people are dying by suicide across the city and Saturday’s event gives all those people who have been affected by suicide a chance to come together and remember their loved ones,” he said.
“The Walk Out of the Darkness and Into the Light is a celebration of the lives of those people who have died by suicide and a chance for families to come together and support each other,” he added.
Participants are invited to bring a torch or candles and transport will be provided for those with motibilty difficulties.
Father Gary Donegan, parish priest at Holy Cross, said the Mass will give the families time to reflect.
“All the people who have died as a result of suicide will be remembered and there will be a special emphasis on those gone before us but also a special emphasis on the importance of choosing life.
“PIPS will of course be present and we are only to delighted to welcome them and everyone involved to Holy Cross.”