Lough Derg - a safe space to explore Living with Suicide
Lough Derg is hosting a 'Living with Suicide' retreat this month
AWARENESS of suicide and the issues that surround it might be growing, but for the bereaved it can remain painful and confusing.
Those directly and indirectly affected by suicide not only struggle with what is still a taboo subject for many in Ireland, but also unresolved questions around the death.
Lough Derg has been hosting annual one-day 'Living with Suicide' retreats since 2013 to offer support to those touched by suicide.
This year's is being held on Saturday September 30.
Retreat spiritual director Fr Cathal Deery said the day offered a safe space for those affected by suicide to find some sense of healing and peace in the midst of their pain and struggle.
"There is a suicide crisis in Ireland. Officially, around 800 people end their own lives each year but the real figure may be much higher," he said.
"If 800 people were dying in road accidents there would be a public outcry for the PSNI, Gardai and others to do something about it."
The effects of suicide are felt throughout society, he said.
"Suicide touches everybody regardless of whether you have faith or not - it is no respecter of age, gender, background, class or religious denomination," said Fr Deery, who emphasised that all were welcome to attend the day.
"The Living with Suicide retreat offers those affected by suicide, either through personal loss or with suicidal ideation, and those working in support services or who minister to the suicide bereaved, the opportunity for deeper understanding and support to make sense of it all," he said.
Suicide touches everybody regardless of whether you have faith or not - it is no respecter of age, gender, background, class or religious denomination
Prayer and reflection form part of the day's programme, but there are also opportunities for discussion and questions.
Two speakers will also share their own experience of suicide.
SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan will reflect on his experience since the death of his sister five years ago and Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House, will talk about suicide and self-harm.
Fr Deery said the Living With Suicide retreat was "an emotional day" but that it also offered hope and empowerment.
"Several years after a suicide, people sometimes feel that they cannot talk about their loved one. But people have said to me that at Lough Derg, they feel it is OK to talk about them and don't have to make apologies."
Faith struggles often follow a suicide, said Fr Deery - "People ask, 'Where is God in this?' 'How did he let this happen?'" - but the retreat has helped some people "reconnect with their faith".
"What is very important is that there is no expectation on anyone who attends to say or share anything," he said.
- The 'Living with Suicide' retreat takes place on Saturday September 30, with guest speakers Mark H Durkan and Joan Freeman. The day begins at 9.30am.
- Advance booking is essential. For more information contact Maureen or Sharon on 00353 7198 61518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org