Waterworks Park for remembrance
Tears were shed last night as the families of those lost to suicide united to support each other during a unique event to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
As dusk fell, people gathered to form a circle of hope around the Waterworks' pond as part of the Night of Remembrance – a tribute to those who have taken their own lives in the province.
The evening, organised by north Belfast based suicide prevention charity PIPS, started at 7pm with a cross-community service at Holy Cross Chapel led by Fr Gary Donegan of the Holy Cross Parish and Rev Mervyn Ewing from Jennymount Methodist Church.
Visitors were also welcomed to the PIPS office on the Antrim Road for refreshments ahead of the Waterworks service.
In a physical display of unity, participants joined hands around the circumference of the pond. Water lanterns, touchingly referred to as 'lovelights' by those present, were floated on the pond to musical accompaniment from LGBT choir, Quire, and drumming from Belfast Boys' Model School.
PIPS founder Philip McTaggart spoke to the Community Telegraph about the importance of the event: "This is something the families within PIPS came up with themselves," he said.
"They wanted to do something uplifting to celebrate their loved ones as well as allowing people to show their support for anyone who has been affected by suicide.
"It's so important to show anyone who might be in trouble that there is help out there. To say, 'please talk to someone, you're not wasting anyone's time'.
"The water lanterns were made by PIPS families, they called them lovelights. We usually release sky lanterns but this year they wanted to pay tribute to their loved ones by something different.
"Everyone has bad days but we want to show people they can come through it, they're not on their own and there is hope."
Anyone affected by suicide can contact PIPS on: 90 805850 or visit: www.pipscharity.com