Dawn walk aims to shed light on suicide
LOCAL suicide awareness groups will be marching from north Belfast to Belfast’s City Hall where they will unite with other groups from ‘all corners of Northern Ireland’ for a service on this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day.
The annual ‘Walk of Life’ event “Out of the Darkness and into the Dawn” is a regionally collective approach to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. Its title signifi an expression of hope for those families and individuals affected by the tragedy.
Representatives from Suicide Awareness & Support Group, East Belfast Survivors of Suicide Group, PIPS, FASA Lighthouse, SOS Family Voices and other groups from across the province are organising the event.
Philip McTaggart, director of the PIPS Programme in north Belfast, whose son Philip took his own life in 2003, said: “For us it starts very early. There are a number of places to walk from, and people from Ligoneil and surrounding areas are meeting on the Oldpark Road to meet with other people.
“There are different meeting points all the way along. We’re heading to the Shankhill Road and then we will walk to City Hall.”
He said: “This is a great, uplifting event. It begins very early, but when you see so many people coming together for this cause it is worth it. It is very emotional for me, but you leave with a sense of lightness and I actually celebrated the 17 years I had with my son Philip — I appreciated it even more.”
A spokesperson from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said: “We need all of our respective communities to support World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2011, by walking with us out of the darkness and walking into the light of a new dawn, the light of new hope for suicide prevention.
“We are all responsible and we need to focus our attention on the unacceptable burden of suicidal deaths within our communities.”
The lord mayor of Belfast, councillor Niall O’Donnaghaile will be the keynote speaker at the event at City Hall, accompanied by community, voluntary and statutory representatives from north, south, east and west Belfast.
There will be a symbolic gesture of reaching out and linking hands at the end of the event to signify the inclusiveness of unity as they acknowledge the differing cultures that live within Northern Ireland.
At 12.30 at City Hall an Action4Change rally will be held in an attempt to get cross departmental support from the Assembly to increase support and services for mental health issues in the health service.
“Between 2005 and 2010 there has been a 47 per cent increase in suicides in Northern Ireland,” said Philip McTaggart.
“If that happened with road traffic accidents there would be an outcry. All we’re saying is that there needs to be proper funding in mental health issues and support for families and sufferers.”
Main points of departure:
Stormont — 4.30am
FASA, 178 Shankill Rd — 5.15am
PIPS, Estorial Park, Ardoyne — 4.45am
LBGT, Waring Street — 5.15am
Lighthouse, Duncairn Gardens — 5.15am
Suicide Awareness & Support Falls Road — 5.15am