suicide memorial tree, purple hearts

Bereaved relatives gather for suicide memorial

Renfrewshire residents who have lost loved ones to suicide gathered in Paisley for a special service.

The event was organised by the local support group of Survivors of Bereavement through Suicide (SOBS), and was attended by Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall.

Those attending the annual event met at council HQ in Cotton Street for a short service led by Reverend Alan Birss and Father Stephen Baillie

They then proceeded outside the building, to a special tree which was planted four years ago as a memorial for suicide victims.

The Provost laid a wreath and lit the tree, after which visitors had the chance to place purple hearts with messages written on them on its branches in memory of their loved ones.

Provost Hall – who welcomed guests to a reception in Paisley Abbey after the event – said: “Hearing the stories of people who have been affected by suicide really brings home the extent to which it affects the lives of those who are left behind.

“Events like this help raise awareness of the issue, and make sure anybody struggling to cope is aware they aren’t alone and help is out there.”

Moira Buchanan, 39, began attending SOBS meetings after her sister Mary took her life two years ago.

She said: “When it happens, you go through so many different feelings all at once. As individuals we have different experiences.

“When I first went along to the SOBS meetings, I found it quite incredible. You can talk in privacy and share your stories.”

The event was supported by Choose Life, the national strategy to prevent suicide in Scotland.

Local Choose Life co-ordinator Rosemary Mullan added: “Every day, two people in Scotland die from suicide, but talking about it can save lives.

“If you are worried someone is suicidal, ask them – it could make the difference. And if you feel suicidal, talk to someone you trust or call a helpline.”

The national helpline Breathing Space can be reached on 0800 83 85 87, and the number for The Samaritans is 08457 90 90 90.

For more information on the Renfrewshire meetings of SOBS, call 0141 849 2200, or email rosemary.mullan@renfrewshire.gov.uk