A new regional group representing families and loved ones affected by suicide will launch this Friday in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day.
The group, Families Voices Forum, has been set up to ensure the voices of all those affected by suicide can be heard.
As part of the launch, the forum, which is supported by the Public Health Agency, will host the ‘Walk out of the darkness and into the dawn’ event on World Suicide Prevention Day.
Welcoming the establishment of the group, Dr Eddie Rooney, chief executive of the Public Health Agency said: “Men and women of every age group and every walk of life in Northern Ireland die by suicide and these deaths impact upon all of the community.
“With a collective effort, the tragic deaths of many people can be reduced and can prevent the sorrow and pain felt by those bereaved. Suicide prevention is the business of each and every one of us.”
Members of the forum feel there is a need for the interests and experiences of those family members who have lost a loved one through suicide to be heard.
The group intends to champion rights and to challenge and contribute to change within suicide and self-harm policy through their involvement in the delivery of the ‘Protect Life Strategy: A Shared Vision: the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan 2006-2011.
Mary Creaney, spokesperson for the forum said: “We want to establish what is working and what needs to be improved to benefit those bereaved by suicide.
“We also want to increase awareness of the impact of suicide across all communities in Northern Ireland and for anyone feeling suicidal to know that there is help out there for them.”
The Families Voices event will start at the gates of Parliament Buildings, Stormont at 4.15am on Friday, September 10, and participants will walk to Belfast City Hall.
Other participating groups will leave their respective geographical locations from across Northern Ireland to join the walk to Belfast City Hall for a service of reflection at 6am. The Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery, will be in attendance.
If you are in distress or despair you can contact Lifeline, a free and confidential 24 hour helpline, on 0808 808 8000.