Those lost to suicide were commemorated at a special ceremony at Renfrewshire House yesterday (Thursday 25 January).

Renfrewshire support group Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) hosted the annual service at the memorial tree which resides in the council grounds in Paisley.

SOBS Memorial tree 25.1.18

The service was attended by Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron, Reverend Alan Birss, Minister of Paisley Abbey, and Father John Eagers on behalf of the Diocese of Paisley, as well as members of the local community.

Reverend Birss and Father Eagers led a series of short readings, followed by a procession to the memorial tree at which Provost Cameron laid a wreath of remembrance.

Community members were then able to place a purple heart on the tree to commemorate the loved one they have lost.

Following the service all those attending were invited to join the Provost, the local SOBS support group and the Choose Life team for light refreshments in Paisley Abbey.

Provost Cameron said: “This service is an opportunity for those who have lost a loved one to come together and remember them – and the memorial tree also provides a place for them to visit throughout the year.

SOBS Memorial tree 25.1.18

“It is important that we offer the correct support to friends and family who have been affected by this issue and we must ensure that those who are dealing with suicidal thoughts are aware of the help that is available.

“I encourage anyone who is dealing with the heartache of losing a loved one to seek the help that is on offer – such as the local SOBS group or the Choose Life team.”

The memorial tree was first dedicated in 2010 as a permanent memorial to those who have died through suicide and is believed to have been the first of its kind in Scotland.

SOBS Memorial tree 25.1.18

The service aims to provide an opportunity to remember those who have been lost while providing an arm of support to the survivors. It is also an opportunity to connect with others who have faced a similar situation.

Rosemary Mullan, Choose Life Coordinator, said: “Our Renfrewshire SOBS group is there to prevent those bereaved by suicide from feeling isolated and alone with their grief.

“Our monthly meetings are friendly and informal and offer a safe place for people to share their experiences of loss. You can tell your story, or just listen to others’ experiences and our members say that this helps them to feel understood and supported.

“I would urge anyone grieving alone to consider coming along to our group and see if it helps to ease some of your heartache.”

Those unable to attend the service can still place a purple heart on the memorial tree – and these can be collected at the Customer Service Centre at Renfrewshire House.

The SOBS group meets on the last Wednesday of every month at Johnstone Day Care Centre, 21 Walkinshaw St, Johnstone, PA5 8AF, from 7pm-8:30pm, and new members are always welcome.

For more information contact the Choose Life Team on 0141 849 2200 or visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/sobs.

If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, or you know someone that might be, then please call one of the helpline numbers: Samaritan’s 116 123, Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87, RAMH First Crisis 0141 849 90 90 or 0500 829 093. If you are struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one to suicide you can call the SOBS helpline on 03001115065.